How Are You in Italian: Local Phrases You Should Know!

2nd July 2024

Asking “how are you” in the right way is the perfect opener to any Italian conversation. Learn how to do it just like a local!


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How are you? It’s one of the first and most important questions you’ll ask in Italian. 

Of course, you can just remember one basic phrase and be done. 

But you’ll be missing out on all those lovely, local-sounding phrases that can help you communicate smoothly and have fun talking to Italians. 

Just like in English, sometimes you need a casual “how’s it going?” and sometimes you want to go deeper with “how’s life?” 

So in this lesson, you’ll find a few different ways to ask Italians “how are you?”. By the end, you’ll know how to pick the perfect expression for any situation! 

Two Common Phrases: Come Stai vs. Come Va

If you don’t know much Italian yet, start here. These are the two most common ways to ask “how are you” in Italian: 

Come stai?  How are you?  KOH–MEH STAH–EE
Come va?  How’s it going?  KOH–MEH VAH

Just like in English, the reply to come stai (how are you) could range from a casual “fine thanks”, to a deep reply about health or life, depending on the situation and how you asked. The answer to come va (how’s it going?) is nearly always short and casual. 

Speaking of which, you’ll probably want to learn a few ways to reply! Learn the best responses to “come stai” here

Asking How Are You in Formal Situations

Did you know that Italian has a formal address? If you’re speaking to adults you don’t know very well, for example, people in the service industry, it’s often better to use this one.  

Come sta?  How are you? (formal) KOH–MEH STAH
Come stai?  How are you? (informal) KOH–MEH STAH–EE

See how the words sta and stai change in the examples above? Often in Italian, to switch between the formal and informal all you need to do is change the ending slightly. 

Casual Ways to Ask: How Are You? 

Remember how to say “how’s it going” in Italian? Come va! This is one perfect, laid back way to ask someone how they are. Here are two more common phrases you’ll hear all the time in Italy. 

Come andiamo? How’s it going (another way to say it) KOH–MEH AN–DEE–AH–MOH 
Tutto bene?  Everything ok?  TOO–TOH BEH–NEH

For this last phrase, there’s a small but important detail. In English, “everything ok” often suggests that we’ve detected something wrong and we’re checking in. We can use it this way in Italian too, but often tutto bene is just a neutral and casual way to ask how it’s going.  

How’s Life? Moving Past Small Talk in Italian

Finally, onto the juicy stuff! As your Italian improves and you start to build relationships with the locals , you’ll want to move past the generic…   

– “How are you?” 

– “Fine thanks! 

… and actually have a proper conversation! These phrases will help you move past the pleasantries and talk about life. 

Novità? What’s new?  NOH–VEE–TAH
Come va la vita? How’s life?  COH–MEH VAH LAH VEE–TAH
Che mi racconti?  What’s new with you?  KEH MEE RAH–CON–TEH
Come vanno le cose?  How are things going? COH–MEH VAH–NOH LEH COH–ZEH

A Detailed Question to Show You Care

Did you know that Katie works a lot, Matteo has a bad back and Cristina, one of our Italian teachers, is learning French? 

Asking about specific things in people’s lives is one of the best ways to bond! The perfect question for that is: Come va con…

For example: 

Come va con il lavoro?  How’s the job going?  COH–MEH VAH CON EEL LAH–VOR–ROH
Come va con la schiena?  How’s your back? (lit. “how’s it going with the back”)  COH–MEH VAH CON LAH SK–YE–NAH
Come va con il francese?  How’s the French going?  COH–MEH VAH CON EEL FRAN–CHEH–SEH

Just remember to start with Come va con… (literally “how’s it going with…”), then finish the question with the thing you want to know about. 

Asking How Other People Are in Italian (And a Common Mistake to Avoid!)

These last questions will help you start a conversation about the most important thing of all… people! To ask about friends and family in Italian , you can use the phrases: Come sta…? and Come stanno? 

Look at the table with examples below. What’s the difference between the two phrases? When do we use sta and when do we use stanno

Come sta Matteo?  How’s Matteo?   COH–MEH STAH MAT–TEH–OH
Come sta tuo marito?  How’s your husband?  COH–MEH STAH TOO–OH MAH–REE–TOH
Come sta tua moglie?  How’s your wife?  COH–MEH STAH TOO–OH MOL–YEH
Come stanno i figli?  How are the kids?  COH–MEH STAN–NOH EE FEE–LYEE
Come stanno i colleghi?  How are your colleagues?  COH–MEH STAN–NOH EE COH–LEH–GHEE?

We used sta in the singular (Matteo), and stanno to talk about a plural (children). When talking about how someone is in Italian, we always use the verb stare , which changes depending on who we’re talking about, for example: 

Come stai – How are you? 

Come sta – How are you? (formal)

Come sta – How is s/he? 

Come state – How are you? (plural)

Come stanno? – How are they? 

Ah, and did you notice anything weird about the phrase come sta? It’s a 3-in-1! It means “How are you” in the formal address, but it also means “how is she” and “how is he”. This can feel a bit confusing at first, but context helps a lot. And there’s less to remember! 

How Are You in Italian: Review

Come va con l’italiano? How’s your Italian going? Hopefully well, now you’ve seen 12 very local-sounding ways to ask “how are you” in Italian! Let’s review them quickly: 

Come stai? – How are you? (informal)

Come va? – How’s it going? 

Come sta? – How are you? (formal)

Come andiamo? – How’s it going? (another way to say it)

Tutto bene? – All ok? 

Novità? – What’s new? 

Come va la vita? – How’s life? 

Che mi racconti? – What’s new with you? 

Come vanno le cose? – How are things going? 

Come va con… (la corsa/il lavoro)? – How’s (the running/the job) going? 

Come sta… (Matteo/tuo marito)? – How is (Matteo/your husband)?

Come stanno… (i figli/i colleghi)? – How are (the kids/your colleagues)?

Now you know how to ask, don’t forget to check out this lesson on how to answer “how are you” in Italian

But for now, come stai? If you’re not tired and you’re ready to keep learning, you can move onto the quiz and vocabulary cards for this lesson!

K: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti! Hi everyone and welcome to “Learn Italian with Joy of Languages”. 

M: Before we get started, If you’re listening to this on your podcast app could you hit the subscribe or follow button? This way you’ll get notified when we release a new episode and you’ll help our podcast grow so that we can keep making free lessons like this. Grazie! 

K: Today we’re coming to you from England, where we go sometimes in the hottest months of summer to escape the Italian heat. 

M: We’re still catching up with our friends back in Italy and recently we got a message from one of our teachers, Cristina. We thought it would be fun to dissect because it had a lot of examples of how to say “how are you” in Italian! 

K: Listen to the audio messages – how many ways to say “how are you” do you hear? Keep in mind that, as this is a real conversation, the Italian is quite fast! But don’t worry, we’ll break it down later. 

C: Ciao Katie! Come va? Tutto bene? Qui fa un caldo! Come vanno le cose in Inghilterra? Brody, come sta? E Matteo?

K: Bene, bene… Brody si diverte molto, Matteo beve un sacco di birra.

M: Ciao Cristina, come stai?

K: A parte il caldo che mi racconti? Come va con il francese?

K: Cristina’s message started with: 

M: Ciao Katie! – Hi Katie

K: Then she asked: 

M: Come va? – How’s it going? 

Come – How 

Va – It goes

K: This is a really common way to ask someone how they are in Italian. It’s quite casual and you can use it in everyday conversations with friends, in exactly the same way as you might ask “how’s it going?”

M: Come va? (x2)

K: Cristina continued: 

M: Tutto bene? – Everything ok? 

Tutto – everything 

Bene – good? 

K: Here’s another way to ask someone how they are. Tutto bene? There’s an interesting little difference here compared to English. I think usually in English, if we ask someone if everything’s ok, there’s an underlying assumption that it might not be, so I’m checking in. 

M: In Italian, we can use it this way too, but most of the time, tutto bene is just a nice, casual way to ask someone how they are. Tutto bene? (x2)

K: Then Cristina gave us some updates: 

M: Qui fa un caldo! – Here it’s hot

Qui – Here 

Fa – It does

Un – A 

Caldo – Heat

K: You might already know that in Italian, to say it’s hot, we literally say “fa caldo” (it does hot). 

M: Fa caldo (x2)

K: Fa UN caldo, with the little “UN” in the middle adds extra emphasis.

M: Fa un caldo! (x2)

K: Then Cristina asked: 

M: Come vanno le cose in Inghilterra? – How are things going in England? 

Come – How 

Vanno – They go 

Le – the

Cose – things 

In – in

Inghilterra – England

K: Here’s another example of how Italians often express things slightly differently. For example instead of saying “how are things going”, we literally say “how they go the things”

M: Come vanno le cose (x2)

K: Next, Cristina obviously has her priorities right, because she first asks about the most important member of the family: 

M: Brody, come sta? – Brody, how is she? Literally: 

Brody – Brody (our dog)

Come – How

Sta – she stays

K: In Italian, to talk about how we are, we normally use the verb “stare”, which literally means “to stay”. You can learn more about this in episode 128. To say “how are you” in the informal, we say…


M: Come stai? (x2)

K: Most people remember and use this phrase. But I notice that when students want to talk about other people, they get stuck and often make mistakes. How would you ask “how’s Matteo” in Italian? Literally “how stays Matteo”? 


M: Come sta Matteo? (x2)

K: How would I reply? “He’s good”, or “he’s fine”? Literally “he stays good”. 

M: Sta bene (x2)

K: This is the same as “she’s good”. In Italian, there’s no difference. She’s good or she’s fine is: 

M: Sta bene (x2)

K: Then Cristina asked: 

M: E Matteo? – And Matteo? 

K: First Brody, then Matteo. 

M: It’s ok, capisco, I understand, we all know our place compared to Brody. 

K: Then I replied: 

M: Bene, bene – Good, good 

K: Here’s a very natural way to answer! Italians often repeat it twice, bene, bene. To learn more ways to answer “how are you” in a natural way you can listen to episode 89. Next, I said: 

M: Brody si diverte molto – Brody is enjoying herself a lot

Brody – Brody 

Si – Herself 

Diverte – Enjoys

Molto - A lot 

K: Sometimes Italians talk like Yoda and put the person first! Instead of “Brody enjoys herself”, we say “Brody herself enjoys”. Brody si diverte. Then I said: 

M: Matteo beve un sacco di birra – Matteo is drinking a lot of beer

Matteo – Matteo 

Beve – drinks

Un sacco di – a sack of 

Birra – beer

K: Here’s a nice colloquial expression in Italian. Un sacco di, literally “a sack of”. A bit like saying “a ton of”. 

M: Un sacco di. It’s true! I love going to the pub in England. 

K: Then Matteo joined in: 

M: Ciao Cristina – Hi Cristina

M: Come stai? – How are you

Come – How 

Stai – You stay 

K: Here we see the standard way to ask friends “how are you?”. Just like in English, the reply to come stai (how are you) could range from a casual “fine thanks”, to a deep reply about health or life, depending on the situation and how you asked. 

M: Yes, I can say Ciao! Come stai? And the reply would probably just be bene, grazie! Fine thanks. But if I’m sitting with my friend who’s going through a difficult time, and I touch their shoulder and say Come stai?, they would probably go into detail. 

K: I continued: 

M: A parte il caldo – A part from the heat

A parte – A part from. 

Il – the 

Caldo – heat

M: Che mi racconti? – What’s new? Literally 

Che – What 

Mi – Me 

Racconti – You tell 

K: Raccontare means to tell, as in to tell a story. So to say what’s new with you in Italian, we ask “what can you tell me?” Literally “what, me, you tell”. 

M: Che mi racconti? (x2) This is a really useful phrase when you see friends, to get the conversation started. 

K: Then I asked: 

M: Come va con il francese? – How’s the French going? 

Come – How 

Va – It goes 

Con – with 

Il – the 

Francese? – French

K: Cristina is learning French, so I asked “how’s the French going?” Literally “how it goes with the French?” 

M: Come va con il francese? (x2) This is a really useful way to ask people about the details in their lives. You just say come va con then add the thing at the end. Come va con… 

K: For example, how’s the job going? The job is il lavoro

M: Come va con il lavoro? (x2)

K: Let’s review the most important phrases from today’s lesson. We had: How’s it going? 


M: Come va? (x2)

K: Everything ok? Which in Italian, is just another way of asking how you are, it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Everything ok? 


M: Tutto bene? (x2)

K: How are things? Literally how go the things? 


M: Come vanno le cose? (x2)

K: What’s the simplest, most standard way to ask “how are you” in the second person, to a friend? 


M: Come stai? (x2)

K: Then in the third person. How is he or how is she? 


M: Come sta? (x2)

K: What’s new? Literally “what, me, you tell”


M: Che mi racconti? (x2)


K: How’s it going with… to ask about details.  


M: Come va con… (x2)

K: Let’s listen to the conversation again. 

C: Ciao Katie! Come va? Tutto bene? Qui fa un caldo! Come vanno le cose in Inghilterra? Brody, come sta? E Matteo?

K: Bene, bene… Brody si diverte molto, Matteo beve un sacco di birra.

M: Ciao Cristina, come stai?

K: A parte il caldo che mi racconti? Come va con il francese?

M: But what if you want to ask someone using the formal address? You’ll find extras like this over on the blog for this episode. 

K: You’ll also learn more lovely, local-sounding phrases, see everything written down, and get bonus materials, like vocabulary cards and a quiz. Head over to our website by clicking on the link in the description, or you can go to and search for episode 146. 

M - See you next time.

K - Or as we say in Italian.

Alla prossima!

Time to check your understanding and remember everything you just learned! Below you’ll find a mini-quiz and some vocabulary cards to help it all go in.


How much did you learn? Find out in the quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How Are You in Italian


Come stai? = How are you (informal)

Come sta? = How are you (formal); How is he? How is she?

Come va? = How’s it going?

Tutto bene? = Everything ok?

Come vanno le cose? = How are things? (lit. How, they go, the things)

Che mi racconti? = What’s new with you? (lit. What, me, you tell)

Come va con… = How’s …. going?

Come va con il lavoro? = How’s work going?

Flashcards: How Are You in Italian

Not sure how it works? Click here to watch the tutorial

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