We often want to check on friends or family to ask questions or share a story throughout the day. But is it correct to ask, “How is your day going?”
It is correct to say, “How is your day going?” when you see someone and wish to be polite or start a friendly conversation. When you ask this question, you ask a person whether their day has been going well or, perhaps, not. It is common in workplace settings and among friends and family.
Keep reading to learn more about this question, what it means, and how you can respond if someone asks you, “How is your day going?”
What Does “How Is Your Day Going” Mean?
“How is your day going?” is a common, polite question many people use in greetings or to start a conversation. It can also mean you are trying to learn more about how someone is doing or feeling compared to the previous day.
Being polite means showing a person you are speaking with that you value and respect them (source). There are many ways to be polite. For example, asking a question like “How is your day going?” emphasizes that you care or feel concerned for a person.
The meaning may differ if you speak to a colleague versus a family member or close friend. For example, if you ask your boss in passing, “How is your day going?” it’s more likely that you are simply being polite or using the phrase in a similar way that you would use the greeting “Hello.”
Because you probably don’t know your boss intimately, it’s not likely that you are seeking information about their feelings or state of mind at that moment. Unless, however, your boss shared with you a previous day that the day had been going poorly for him.
When you ask a friend or family member this question, the response may be more informative, sharing more detail about their day, what happened, and the reasoning for their answer.
Nonetheless, the question is a very familiar polite question. It is appropriate to use as a simple conversation starter or with a deeper intention to find out how someone feels.
How Do You Use “How Is Your Day Going”?
You can use “How is your day going?” as a conversation starter or greeting. Some view the question as a type of sentence starter, although it is a complete sentence on its own, containing both a subject and a verb.
A sentence starter is an important idea to learn and understand in academic writing, and while “How is your day going?” is not a sentence starter in the traditional sense, the idea is that it helps to introduce ideas in conversation.
A sentence starter in writing is typically a transition word or phrase you can use to connect or introduce ideas in your writing. Again, “How is your day going” is not a sentence starter in the traditional sense, but you can use it to add emphasis, show a deeper level of respect, or simply say something more than “Hello.”
The question is complete and can stand on its own. However, you can use it in spoken and written communication, such as with texts or quick emails. And it is a general question, specifically for those you see daily.
However, you can use this phrase with strangers or someone you’ve just met for the first time; this way, it’s a great way to start a polite conversation.
When Can You Use “How Is Your Day Going”?
You can ask, “How is your day going?” any time you wish to start a conversation or seek to learn more about a person’s day or feelings at a particular point. You can also intend it as a greeting with little expectation that the person will elaborate.
You can use this question in formal and informal contexts. But you should remember that the person’s response will differ depending on whom you are asking. Generally speaking, you can ask this question in quite a few different situations and contexts.
If you are at work and see a coworker who you know had a rough day the day before or even a hard week last week, asking this question is a good way to start a conversation and show that you care about and value them.
If you don’t know your coworker well, or perhaps it’s their first day on the job, you can use this question to show that you welcome the person and care about how they are doing.
You might also ask a coworker who you pass in the copying room or communal space. It’s another good time to ask how someone’s day is going, with the expectation that the response may be short as you both head back to your desks.
Outside of Work Contexts
In more intimate contexts, you can use the question to find out how a family member or a friend’s day is going out of curiosity, especially if they confided in you that their day was not going so well yesterday or some other day prior. Their answer will likely be longer and more elaborate in this situation.
Sometimes you can also use this phrase when you see someone in a grocery store or other location, and you don’t know them well but wish to be more polite and ask a question versus simply offering a “Hello.”
For example, perhaps you are grocery shopping and offer to carry an elderly woman’s bags to her car as you see her struggle. Then, as you walk with her, you might converse politely and ask, “How is your day going?”
The answers to this question will vary depending on the context in which you are using it, so we’ll talk next about how you can answer this question should someone ask you, “How is your day going?”
How Do You Answer “How Is Your Day Going”?
There are various ways you can respond when someone asks, “How is your day going.” Your answer will depend on the context, who is asking the question, and how much you choose to elaborate.
Your answer to this question can be as simple as “It’s going well; thanks!” Then you can also respond in kind by asking the same question back.
If you choose to elaborate, there are many different ways to do so. One way is to elaborate by explaining how your day is going. Is it going well? Has it been an awful day or a challenging day? If you choose, you can explain why or what happened.
You can also respond by saying that your day is going great, adding more detail about a specific event that was most impactful, meaningful, or important.
A basic response may be “My day is going ___________,” the blank line being any adjective or adverb you choose to use, whether positive or negative. Positive words or phrases may include any from the list below:
- Pretty good
- Not so bad
- Same old, same old (meaning it’s the same as yesterday and the day before)
Examples of negative words or phrases you can use to fill in the blank if you are having a bad day include:
- Okay, it could be worse
Remember that the way you respond depends on the context. If you know the person well, they are more likely to look for a longer response from you with more detail, especially if it is a family member or friend.
If you are passing a coworker in the lunchroom, however, your response may be simple and polite without much elaboration, and that is okay. Likewise, if you simply don’t feel much like talking, you can also give a simple response, which is perfectly acceptable.
Using “How Is Your Day Going” in a Full Sentence
“How is your day going” is a full sentence on its own. You don’t need to add anything, but you can add a word or two to be more specific such as “today” or “so far.”
When you ask someone how their day is going, there’s really not too much to add. But you can say, “How is your day going so far?” if it is mid-day or, “How is your day going today?”
You might also ask, “How is your day going compared to yesterday?” You can use this if you know the person you are asking had a challenging day the day before.
The longer, fuller answer comes in the form of your response, whether you respond with a short “It’s going well; thanks” or something longer that adds more detail about the events of your day.
When Not to Use “How Is Your Day Going”
There aren’t too many situations in which you should avoid this question since it’s one many people use to start a conversation or show respect or kindness.
One situation where you may want to avoid this phrase is if you don’t have time to listen to a person’s full response, should they choose to elaborate on their day. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to listen attentively, it’s better to stick to “Hello” instead.
If a person is a stranger, it may seem awkward to ask this question. But it’s not wrong. There’s nothing inappropriate about asking a cashier checking out your groceries how their day is going. In fact, most would really appreciate the kindness.
What Can You Use Instead of “How Is Your Day Going”?
Instead of asking, “How is your day going?” you can ask other polite questions, such as “How is your day going so far?” or “How has your day been going?”
You can also change “is” to “was” if asking the question at the end of the day. So, you would ask, “How was your day” if you are speaking to someone after the traditional work hour, at dinner, or later in the evening. “Was” is past tense, so you are asking about something that occurred in the past versus the present.
If you want to ask a general question about a person’s week or multiple days, you can ask, “How has your week been going?” or “How is your week going?”
Asking polite questions is essential so you don’t seem rude, unkind, or abrasive in your tone. A simple way to make nearly any question polite is to add the word “please.” You can also add a phrase such as “Do you know” before asking a direct question to make your tone significantly more polite.
For example, imagine you need to know where the restroom is. If you are asking a stranger, you might ask, “Do you know where the restroom is?” or “Can you tell me where the restroom is?” rather than a more direct question like “Where is the restroom?”
Adding phrases like “Do you know” or “Can you tell me” will soften your tone and make your question much more polite and less abrasive.
If you ask someone to borrow something, you can add phrases such as, “Would you mind if” or “May I.” For example, instead of saying, “Can I borrow your pen?” you might ask, “Would you mind if I borrowed your pen?” Again, these phrases soften your tone, making you sound more polite and kind.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Polite questions are essential in a lot of contexts. If you’d like to learn more about polite questions, consider Is It Correct to Say “How Is Everything Going”? or Is It Correct to Say “Did It Go Well”?
Polite questions such as “How is your day going?” are great ways to show that you value or care for a person. You can use this question to start a conversation or to simply check in on a friend, family member, coworker, or stranger.
It works in formal and informal contexts and situations where you know a person well. It also works when you may be meeting someone for the first time. So, feel free to use it frequently in various settings and contexts.