¿Cómo estás? vs ¿Cómo está? (2023)

Quick answer – both ‘¿Cómo estás?’ and ‘¿Cómo está?’ mean ‘How are you?’ in Spanish. ‘¿Comó estás?’ is the informal (but more common) ‘’ form and ‘¿Comó está?’ the more formal ‘usted’ form (the use of which varies according to the country that you´re in).

¿Cómo está?’ can also refer to ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘it’ (like ‘How is he / she?’ in English).

So, which one to choose?

Well, it´s gonna depend on the situation and the country you´re in.

In all Spanish speaking countries ‘¿Cómo estás?’ translates to ‘How are you?’ and ´¿Cómo está?´ to ‘How is he / she?’.

The more confusing part is the ‘usted’ form as it´s used (way!) more in some countries (looking at you Colombia) than others (eyes firmly fixed on Spain)!

Wanna know more?

Let´s get into the nitty gritty!

¿Cómo estás?‘ vs ‘¿Cómo está?

As you may have noticed, the first word (‘cómo’) in these phrases remains the same. This is true if you’re addressing a group of people, your mother, or the President of Mexico!

The word that does vary according to the situation and who you are conversing with is the ‘estás’ (or ‘está’).

“But what exactly is this pesky ‘estás’?”, I hear you cry … “and why on earth doesn´t it just stay the same?”!

Well, let´s think about the English equivalent for a sec …

The literal translation of ‘Cómo estás’ is ‘How are you?’ which obviously changes in English too, depending on the context. For example, if you want to ask how a group of people who are NOT present are in English, you´d obviously say, ‘How are they?’.

What´s the common denominator?

Well, the verb ‘to be’, of course!

Yes, we can blame the humble verb ‘to be’ for all our woes (well, all our ¿comó estás / está? related woes at least!)

Let´s conjugate ‘to be’ in the present tense to shed some light on the matter!

PresentEnglish translation
yoestoyI am
estásyou are
él / ella / ustedestáhe /she / it is (usted = you are)
nosotrosestamoswe are
vosotrosestáisyou (pl.) are
ellos / ellas / ustedesestánthey are

So, as you can see above, the verb ‘estar’ changes depending on who exactly you are referring to.

The expression ‘¿Cómo estás?’ follows the same rules as ‘estar’ in the sense that if you just want to launch a friendly ‘How are you?’ at the person you´re talking to, ‘estás’ should be your conjugation of choice (hence ‘¿Cómo estás?’).

(Video) Learn Spanish - Cómo estás vs Cómo está usted || How are you?

If, however, you are asking after a single person (or dog, cat, ferret, etc.) not present at the time, ‘está’ would be your go-to instead!

‘Cómo estás‘ (informal) vs ‘Cómo está’ usted (formal)

As mentioned previously, both these phrases CAN mean the exact same thing (i.e., ‘How are you?’), but ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ edges things in the formal stakes because it´s in the ‘usted‘ form.

To truly understand these two expressions, we need to delve deeper into ‘’ vs. ‘usted’, and the contexts in which each of them are used.

First, let´s look at the general “guidelines” (put in inverted commas as they vary greatly from place to place) as to when to use ‘usted’.

So, what exactly is ‘usted’?

Well, it´s basically a more formal way of saying ‘you’, formed by using the third person singular form of a verb (for example, ‘está’, ‘canta’ or ‘come’).

Let´s look at a few examples –

¡Usted canta muy bien!

You sing really well!

¿Quiere algo más?

Would you like like anything else?

¿De dónde es* usted?

Where are you from?

*Erika´s note –es‘ is used in this example as we´re referring to a more “permanent” quality.

I recommend you head on over to our article on ‘es‘ vs ‘está‘ if you still get the two confused on occasion!

(Video) The Most Simple Video Tutorial of QUÉ TAL vs CÓMO ESTÁS

And when is ‘usted’ used?

Well, this really depends on the country!

In most Latin American countries, ‘usted’ is used when speaking to elderly people AND in formal situations, such as a work environment or when you´re talking to teachers, doctors, etc.

It´s basically used as a way of showing respect to the person you´re conversing with.

Tread carefully though! It´s more common (and the rules are more strictly adhered to) in certain countries than it is in others.

In Mexico (where I live), ‘usted’ is often used with elderly people and *sometimes* with people you don´t know, but neither of these rules are hard and fast as I hear people flouting them on a near daily basis.

The strictness to which these rules are adhered also depends on the area of Mexico in which you are in (I´d generally say that people are more likely to use ‘usted’ in rural areas).

In Colombia, ‘usted’ is super common and ‘¿Cómo está?’ is actually the preferred way of saying ‘How are you?’ in most circumstances.

In Spain, however, ‘usted’ is used very little and you´re very unlikely to be asked ‘¿Cómo está?’ (let alone ‘¿Cómo está usted?’)!

As a rule, I´d use ‘¿Cómo está?’ when addressing elderly people in any Latin American country and in any situation that you consider to be remotely formal. You may miss the mark, but it´s better to play it safe!

Erika´s top tip – often the best thing to do is to listen carefully to how others around you are addressing the person in question and then go from there!

When to use ‘¿Cómo están?

¿Cómo están?´ is the Spanish equivalent of ‘How are they?’, or ‘How are you (plural)?´ when used in the formal ‘usted’ form.

Let´s look at a few examples –

Sandra – Mis hijas acaban de regresar de viaje.

Manuel – ¿Y cómo están? ¿Cómo la pasaron?

Sandra – My daughters have just got back from holiday.

(Video) STOP Saying "Cómo Estás", Say THIS Instead (8 Alternatives)

Manuel – And how are they? Did they have a good time?

Buenos días, ¿cómo están el día de hoy?

Morning, how are you (plural) today?

Cómo está usted‘ response

You can generally respond to ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ in the exact same way as you would to a simple ‘¿Cómo estás?’.

Normally, the best (and easiest!) response is ‘Muy bien, ¿y tú?’ or ´Muy bien, ¿y usted?’ (depending on whether or not you´re actually feeling ‘muy bien’ or not, of course).

Feeling adventurous you say?

Well, let´s have a look at a few other options –

¡Muy bien, gracias!

This one literally translates to ‘Very well, thank you!’ and it´s the perfect response to a ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ if you´re feeling upbeat and jovial!

¡Todo bien, gracias!

¡Todo bien, gracias!’ is a tad more informal than ‘¡Muy bien, gracias!’, but it´s an easy to remember and native-sounding response!

It’s a bit like the English ‘All good, thanks!

¿Cómo está usted?

¡Todo bien, gracias!

How are you?

All good, thanks!

Erika´s note – just remember that ‘¿Cómo está usted?’ is a more formal way of asking ‘How are you?´, so an equally formal response is required in some (but definitely not all!) situations.

¡Pues, más o menos!

This is the one to plump for if you´re not having the best of days as it’s the Spanish equivalent of ‘I´m ok’.

(Video) When to use ¿Cómo estás? VS ¿Cómo está usted?

¿Cómo está usted?

¡Pues, más o menos, no me puedo quejar!

How are you?

I´m ok, can´t complain!

Ahí andamos / Ahí ando

This one´s similar in meaning to ‘más o menos’.

It´s a very Mexican expression and means something along the lines of ‘Well, I suppose things could be better, but I really can´t complain’. You´ll hear this one a lot on the streets of Mexico City!

Man conversing with a tamale* seller early one morning in Mexico City.

¿Cómo está usted?

Ahí andamos. ¡Y usted?

How are you?

I´m ok and you?

*Erika´s note – tamales are a tasty Mexican / Latin American treats made from corn dough.

Final thoughts

There we have it!

I´m sure that once you´ve really got your teeth into the Spanish language, knowing whether to say ‘¿Cómo estás?’ and ‘¿Cómo está?’ will become second nature!

With a bit of luck this article will have also given you a nudge in the right direction.

Be sure to check out my article on ‘estuve‘ vs ‘estaba‘ if you wanna improve your Spanish grammar!

¡Hasta pronto!


What is the correct response to cómo estás? ›

When someone asks you ¿Cómo estás? If you feel alright, you say estoy bien; you could also say, estoy muy bien, to give more emphasis, which means “very good” or “very well.” You can also add one extra word, gracias, meaning “thanks”, and estoy bien, gracias; it means “I'm fine, thank you.” 2.

Which word or phrase best answers the question Cómo estás? ›

How do you answer if someone asks you, "¿Cómo estás?" or "How are you?"? The standard answer is probably "Bien" ("Fine") or "Muy bien" ("Very good"). Of course, both of those responses are often expanded: "Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y tú?" ("Quite well, thank you.

What is a more informal way of asking Cómo estás? ›

If you are talking to multiple people, you'd say “Hola, ¿cómo están?* ” (informal/plural). Another version you'll likely here in conversation is “*Hola, ¿qué tal estás?” (informal/singular) and “Hola, ¿qué tal están?* ” (informal/plural).

How to respond to como te llamas? ›

Pronounced: kohm-oh te yamas. This phrase means “what is your name?” The correct response when somebody asks you “como te llamas” is “me llamo [insert your name here].” Pronounced: may yamo [insert your name here].

What is a negative response to Como estas? ›

“Mal.” Like in English, “bad” is another standard response to “¿Cómo estás?” If you tell someone that you're not doing well, be ready to explain why—you might say something like “Mal.

What are 3 words that express disagreement in Spanish? ›

Don't Just Say No: 10 Polite Ways to Express Disagreement in...
  • Creo que no → I don't think so. ...
  • La verdad es que no → Truthfully, no. ...
  • No puedo → I can't. ...
  • No estoy de acuerdo → I don't agree. ...
  • Me parece que no → It doesn't look like it. ...
  • No tiene sentido → It doesn't make sense.

What's the difference between Como eres and como estas? ›

Refers to how you are as a person — your physical or personality traits. ¿Cómo estás refers to how you are currently — the way you are feeling at the moment. This difference exists because of the two Spanish verbs for to be: ser and estar.

How do you respond to nice to meet you flirty? ›

Pleased to meet you too. It's a pleasure to meet you. Pleasure to meet you too. It was nice meeting you too.

Is Que Onda rude? ›

Que onda in Spanish is a way friends and family welcome each other in an informal situation. Remember, if you're using que onda as a greeting, it should be with someone you already know or in a casual scenario. Que onda is not acceptable in formal or elegant situations.

How do you politely get someone's attention in Spanish? ›


A great all around way to say excuse me or politely get someone's attention is Disculpe (or disculpa in the tú form).

What is the most neutral Spanish greeting? ›

Hola is the most common Spanish phrase for saying Hello because it's universally acceptable. If you don't know what else to say to the person, Hola is always a safe way to say Hello in Spanish.

What is the best way to respond to negative people? ›

Here are the seven responses I use with people who always seem to have something negative to say.
  1. “I'm Sorry to Hear That. ...
  2. “Wow, That Sucks. ...
  3. “Ooh. ...
  4. “If Only [Name] Had the Experience/Wisdom/Work Ethic That You Did!” ...
  5. “Please, Correct Me if I'm Wrong, But It Sounds Like You're Upset Because...” ...
  6. “Oh Gosh.
Jun 19, 2020

How do you respond to Como estas like a native? ›

11 Responses to “Cómo estás” that will make you sound like a native speaker
  1. Estoy bien. I'm fine.
  2. Estoy mal. I'm not well.
  3. Todo bien.
  4. No me puedo quejar.
  5. No puedo quejarme.
  6. Bien, aquí nomás.
  7. Estoy más o menos. I'm ok.
  8. Bien, en lo que cabe. Fine, all things considered.
Aug 13, 2019

What to say to a Spanish girl to turn her on? ›

10 Spanish pick up phrases
  • Eres lindo/linda. You are cute.
  • Tienes una sonrisa hermosa. You have a beautiful smile.
  • Tienes unos ojos preciosos. You have beautiful eyes.
  • ¿Te invito una copa? Would you like a drink?
  • ¿Quieres cenar juntos esta noche? ...
  • ¿Vamos afuera? ...
  • Eres muy atractivo/atractiva. ...
  • He estado pensando en ti.

How do you tell a girl she's attractive in Spanish? ›

  • Hermosa / Hermoso – Beautiful. A common way to say “You are beautiful” in Spanish. ...
  • Bella / Bello – Pretty. ...
  • Bonita / Bonito – Pretty or Nice. ...
  • Preciosa / Precioso – Gorgeous or Precious. ...
  • Guapa / Guapo – Handsome. ...
  • Linda / Lindo – Lovely. ...
  • Adorable – Adorable. ...
  • Atractivo / Atractiva – Attractive.
Sep 2, 2022

How do you tell a Spanish girl she's cute? ›

11. Chulo/a – Cute. In some Spanish-speaking countries, chulo/a is another way to say “cute” or “pretty.” Although it can be similar to the Spanish word lindo/a, chulo/a also expresses that a girl is beautiful. ¡Que chula eres!

What is a mi tambien? ›

And then “A mí tambien.” (también) means: “To me too.” or “To me also.”

How do you express annoyance in Spanish? ›

Estoy molesto / molesta

A simple way for you to express you're mildly annoyed. The expression estoy molesto (I'm upset) is understood in all Spanish-speaking countries and is considered one of the most common Spanish expressions of anger.

What are two phrases you can use to express pain in Spanish? ›

duele is for singular (just one thing hurts) and duelen is for plural (two or more things hurt). If we want to talk about various ailments, we can also use the verb TENER (to have) combining it with the word dolor (pain).

Is Cómo está formal or informal? ›

If you'd like to say “Hello, how are you?” in Spanish, you can use “Hola, ¿cómo estás?” (informal/singular). If you are greeting someone in a more formal setting, you'll want to use “Hola, ¿cómo está?” (formal/singular). If you are talking to multiple people, you'd say “Hola, ¿cómo están?” (informal/plural).

Is Como se llama correct? ›

¿ Cómo se llama ? - What is his name?

Is Como se llama usted formal? ›

In this episode of Coffee Break Spanish To Go, Marina asks the question, ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal) or ¿Cómo se llama usted? (formal). You can use the answers of our interviewees to help you learn to introduce yourself in Spanish.

How do you flirt after a compliment? ›

However you choose to respond, remember the following:
  1. Make eye contact. Look them in the eye when you acknowledge their compliment.
  2. Answer with clarity and directness. Speak loudly and clearly enough to be heard.
  3. Own your attractiveness. No false humility. If you don't feel confident, fake it.
Nov 16, 2022

How do you casually say nice to meet you? ›

If “nice to meet you” sounds too clichéd, you can try one of these variations on the theme:
  1. It's great connecting with you.
  2. Pleased to meet you.
  3. Lovely to meet you.
  4. How do you do? (Formal. Especially in Britain)
  5. Delighted to make your acquaintance. (Very formal)
Jun 10, 2020

What to text after Nice to meet you? ›

The most common way to reply is with "Nice to meet you too." When responding to "Nice to meet you", you can reply formally, "It's a pleasure meeting you as well" or informally "Same here."

What is Mexican slang for white girl? ›

The word güera is, in Chicano and Mexican-Spanish slang, a term for a white girl. It is mildly derogatory (as all such categorical terms are) and inevitably alienating, even (or especially) if one applies it, or finds it applied, to oneself.

Why do Mexicans say Mija? ›

Literally meaning “my daughter,” mija is used as a familiar and affectionate address to women, like “dear” or “honey,” in Spanish.

Why do Mexicans say Orale? ›

Órale is a common interjection in Mexican Spanish slang. It is also commonly used in the United States as an exclamation expressing approval or encouragement. The term has varying connotations, including an affirmation that something is impressive, an agreement with a statement (akin to "okay"), or to signify distress.

Is Te quiero mucho for friends? ›

Literally translated to, “I want you,” te quiero is most appropriate for expressing love to family, close friends, or significant others. Breaking it down even further, “querer” is like saying friends, cousins – hence the less romantic nature of this phrase.

How do you flirt in Spain? ›

Flirting in Spanish – The Romantic Lines
  1. 1) Así como tú, me los recomendó el doctor.
  2. 2) Me gustas más que…
  3. 3) A tu lado me siento más mujer.
  4. 4) Me encanta que siempre escoges tu camisa a juego con tu mirada.
  5. 5) Mi café favorito siempre será el de tus ojos.
  6. 6) Eres el postre perfecto para una cena romántica.

How do I impress my crush in Spanish? ›

Eight Harmless Yet Flirty Spanish Phrases To Compliment And Impress Someone
  1. Eres lindo/linda. ...
  2. Me gusta tu sonrisa. ...
  3. Te ves hermosa / guapo esta noche. ...
  4. ¡Tú eres chistoso! ...
  5. Perdí mi número. ...
  6. ¡Te pareces mucho a mi próximo/a novio/a! ...
  7. Si Cristóbal Colón te viera, diría: ¡Santa María, qué Pinta tiene esta Niña!

What is the most respected Spanish accent? ›

Castilian Spanish from Madrid

While there are varieties within the country, the Spanish spoken in Madrid and in general in central and northern Spain is considered standard. More than 45 million people speak this version of Spanish, and it's the most preferred dialect of Spanish taught in schools.

What do Mexicans say to greet each other? ›

The common verbal greeting is “Buenos dias” (Good day), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon) or “Buenas noches” (Good evening/night) depending on the time of day. A more casual greeting is “Hola” (Hello), “¿Qué tal?” (What's up?) or “¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?).

Is De nada an appropriate response? ›

The response to gracias that you're most likely to use or hear is de nada (you're welcome), or you could say, if appropriate, a tí (thank you). For greater emphasis you can use no hay de qué (don't mention it).

How do you accept compliments in Spanish? ›

So here are some tips on how to reply when you get a compliment in Spanish.
  1. Gracias, eres muy amable. “Thanks, you are very kind.”
  2. Gracias por el cumplido. “Thanks for the compliment.”
May 28, 2020

What is the difference between Cómo estás and Cómo eres? ›

Refers to how you are as a person — your physical or personality traits. ¿Cómo estás refers to how you are currently — the way you are feeling at the moment. This difference exists because of the two Spanish verbs for to be: ser and estar.

How do you respond to Guapa? ›

1 Answer
  1. Gracias, guapa. (Beautiful)
  2. Gracias, maja (friendly)
  3. Gracias cariño (my dear. This is usual in shops, when salespeople thank you for your purchase)
Feb 26, 2019

Can you just say Claro? ›

You would not say ¡claro!, you would say ¡por supuesto! Por supuesto is “of course”. Claro could be translated as “sure”. Save this answer.

How do you get compliments humbly? ›

How to Accept a Compliment
  1. “Thank you, it makes my day to hear that.”
  2. “I really put a lot of thought into this, thank you for noticing.”
  3. “Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to express that.”
  4. “Thank you, I am happy to hear you feel that way!”
Oct 12, 2019

How do you tell a girl she looks beautiful in Spanish? ›

  1. Hermosa / Hermoso – Beautiful. A common way to say “You are beautiful” in Spanish. ...
  2. Bella / Bello – Pretty. ...
  3. Bonita / Bonito – Pretty or Nice. ...
  4. Preciosa / Precioso – Gorgeous or Precious. ...
  5. Guapa / Guapo – Handsome. ...
  6. Linda / Lindo – Lovely. ...
  7. Adorable – Adorable. ...
  8. Atractivo / Atractiva – Attractive.
Sep 2, 2022

Is Guapo a compliment? ›

For example: Typically, it means handsome, or good looking, which is what a dictionary will come up with first. But it can also be pretty, for a female. And glamorous, or classy… when one is dressed up, people will say “Qué guapa estás puesta” or “Qué guapa te has puesta”, which, loosely translated, is “Gosh!

How do you greet someone in Spanish Como? ›

Initial Greetings
SpanishEnglish equivalentContext
HolaHelloStandard greeting
Buenos díasGood morningMornings (until 12:00 p.m. noon)
Buenas tardesGood afternoonUntil the sun goes down / depends on the country
Buenas nochesGood night/Good eveningAfter the sun goes down / after dinnertime; could be used as a farewell
1 more row

Is Cómo está Ud formal or informal? ›

¿Cómo está (usted)?

The pronoun usted refers to a singular “you” in a formal situation. Use this greeting when talking to a stranger, someone much older than you or someone in a position of superiority. For example, you might use ¿Cómo está?


1. ¿Cómo estás? - Asking "how are you?" in Spanish - Coffee Break Spanish To Go Episode 1.02
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2. How are you? in Spanish || Responder ¿Cómo estás? en español.
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3. Stop Saying Cómo Estás – 5 Different Phrases To Strike Up a Conversation in Spanish
4. 8 ways to answer the question ¿CÓMO ESTÁS? in Spanish
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5. ❌ No DIGAS "¿Cómo estás? ❌ 7 Formas Diferentes de preguntar ¿Cómo estás? en español
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6. Creative Answers to the Question "How Are You" in Spanish (Cómo estás)
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