How Ya Doin'?

by Cherie Tucker

November 2017

It’s such a common greeting, like “How are you?” that people don’t really think about it, nor do they really care about your answer. But you should.

The most common answer to that how-ya-doin’ question is, “Good, I’m doin’ good.” What most people don’t realize is that they have just said that they are performing charitable acts.

Doing is an activity, and the question “how ya doin’?” asks how that activity is being performed, which requires an adverb, a word that describes how things are done. They can be done well or brilliantly or even be just fine. But they aren’t done good.

You can be doing good if you are building houses for Habitat for Humanity, for example, or curing a disease. But the question wasn’t “how are you?” If it had been, you could say, “I’m good” or “I’m well.” One answer is about your state of being, and the other about your health. When the question is “how ya doin’?” or even “how is it going?” the questioner is inquiring about the manner in which the thing is being done. An easy response is to say it’s going great. You might just trick your brain into believing it, even when things aren’t going so great, and that would be good. 

Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference.  She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the University of Washington’s Editing Certification program and edits as well.

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