"How are you?"---"I'm fine. Thank you for asking."

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kyotan, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    I think in some situations, native speakers say "Thank you for asking." when greeting someone, but I'm not sure how often or in what situation it is said.

    What I mean is something like this:
    A. "How are you?"
    B. "I'm fine. Thank you for asking."

    If B is a store clerk greeting customers and A is a customer asking B how he/she is doing, can B say "I'm fine. Thank you for asking." ?

    I don't think "Thank you for asking." is said in ordinary situations so can it sound sarcastic, or hostile, or awkward if you hear it in a normal, ordinary situation?

    Thank you.
     
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    I agree with you. :thumbsup:
     
  3. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    "Thank you for asking" sounds excessive to me, unless the person is distressed in some way, or unless there was reason to think that he/she might be distressed.

    For example, if a person looks very sad or worried (or physically hurt), and another person asks, "How are you?" or "Are you OK?", then the first person might say "I'm OK, but thank you for asking."
     
  4. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    Thank you, PaulQ and Gavril.

    I just want to make sure I got you correctly.

    Do you mean that class difference or difference in a social hierarchy in particular situations does not matter, it will sound awkward except for when you are distressed and says thank you?



    I think in some stores, the staff greet customers but not the other way around.

    B can be a store clerk, or the person who opens doors for you in front of a building or a hotel, or a A can be the Queen or the president and B can be a security guard at a building.

    Another question.
    If it is "I'm fine, thank you for asking. And you?", instead of "I'm fine, thank you. And you?"will it sound equally sarcastic, or hostile, or awkward if you hear it in a normal, ordinary situation?

    Thank you.
     
  5. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I only hear this phrase from people who are providing some kind of customer service or an online survey taker or someone like that. I think it must be part of their training. I would be startled to hear it in any normal conversation.
     
  6. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語

    Thank you, kalamazoo. Sorry, which phrase do you mean? "I'm fine, thank you for asking. And you?" or, "Thank you for asking" , or "I'm fine, thank you. And you?"?
     
  7. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    At the moment, I can't think of a situation where class differences or other social differences would affect the use of this phrase.

    I think the main factor is the following: is the question "How are you?" genuinely a question about a person's well being, or is it simply a friendly greeting?

    If a person looks distressed or hurt, then there is more of a reason to think that "How are you?" is an actual inquiry about his/her well being, and therefore there is more of a reason for that person to say "Thank you for asking" when replying to the question.

    The first sentence (I'm fine, thanks for asking. And you?) sounds better to me in a situation where both the speaker and the listener (the person who originally asked the question) want to know about each other's well-being.

    For example, if these two people had just survived a car accident together, or if they were both recovering from an illness, then I can imagine this kind of conversation taking place.
     
  8. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    Thank you so much, Gavril!
     
  9. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    "Thank you for asking" is the phrase I would not expect to hear in normal conversation. I think it is something taught in customer service training.
     

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