In English, it is usual to ask "How are you?" as a salutation. How can I say a similar thing in Italian?

up vote 18 down vote accepted

The typical idioms are

Come stai? (informal, with known people or friends)

Come sta? (formal, with unknown people or important people)

Come va? (always possible)

  • 7
    In my opinion "Come va?" is informal. – Fabio F. Jan 7 '15 at 14:10
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    Yes, I agree it tends a bit towards the informal side. However I think no one would be surprised of being asked "come va?", even by strangers, or interpret it as an excess of familiarity or intimacy (well, I surely wouldn't). As usual, local/personal differences are possible or even likely. – persson Jan 7 '15 at 14:15
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    Come va is not informal. You could say: "Salve, piacere di conoscerla. Come va?" – Alessandro Lallo Jan 7 '15 at 15:12
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    come va sounds pretty informal. I'd never say Buongiorno professore, come va? to one of my professors in a formal conversation. The sentence come va? goes very well with a friendly pat on the back in my opinion. – Bakuriu Jan 7 '15 at 18:56
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    Normally, yes (well, I do at least). Of course, there are always people who don't bother answering, as well as people who don't care about the answer. When they meet, everything's fine. – persson Jan 8 '15 at 0:28

IMHO the other answer is translating "how are you doing". If you are unsure what register to use etc., you can use "Tutto bene?". It's not as common, but it's never wrong: in Bakuriu's example, "Buongiorno professore, tutto bene?" is as formally correct as such a question can possibly be.

  • Anche "Tutto a posto?" – user84976 Jul 6 '16 at 13:13

Be careful, Italian "Come stai/sta?" is indeed asking about health or state of mind. Most likely, I would use it only if I know that something happened to the person in front of me. English usage of "how are you?" is closer to Italian "ciao", isn't it? "Come va?" could be ok, if it is told with a salutation tone, so to speak.

  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @mario! – Charo Oct 24 '15 at 8:05
  • Charo, thanks for your editing. – mario Oct 25 '15 at 17:39

Come stai (informal) or sta (formal). "Come va" is definitely informal, and means, "how's it going," or "how goes it."

  • 1
    Welcome to Italian.SE; since your answer is already covered in karoshi's, this seems more like a comment. Would you like to expand it? – egreg Jul 5 '16 at 8:34

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