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When somebody asks как дела?, what are the common things that I can use to answer?

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    quoting a friend of my wife: "Как легла, так дала"...
    – Karlson
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 17:29
  • 4
    как дела? пока не родила. когда рожу, тогда скажу.
    – JAM
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 20:15

6 Answers 6

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Usually, как дела? is quite a formal greeting requiring a formal response. A common response would be ничего, нормально, adding a formal спасибо.

This kind of greeting is, however, not appropriate for complete strangers and might be considered inappropriately familiar. It's more suitable between coworkers, partners etc., who are not close friends, before discussing business matters. It would be impolite to ask this of someone you haven't been introduced to.

If the person asking is to show deeper interest (still keeping the question polite and non-obligating), they would add an interlocutor: Как у вас дела?, Как ваши дела?. This would be an invitation to talk, which one might refuse by giving the formal response, or accept, by actually going into how they're doing. A спасибо would be appropriate too. This is appropriate between friends, colleagues, neighbors etc.

My favorite response (which I personally use quite often) is вашими молитвами!. It's a short form of вашими святыми молитвами, как шестами подпираемся (literally, "your holy prayers support us like poles"). This means "How good I feel is commensurate with how much you've prayed for me", and is at once well-known and rarely used, and sounds quite sarcastic and funny and lends a warm tone to the ensuing conversation.

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As compared to Americans, Russians are substantially less into small talk. For example, typical greetings are rarely longer than just "Привет".

So, the question "Как дела?" goes beyond standard small talk, and, as such, it may imply that the person asking actually expects some in-depth answer.

The example dialog form Em1's answer:

-Привет! Как дела?

-Очень хорошо, спасибо. А у тебя?

-Тóже хорошó (good, too)

does not sound like a typical Russian dialog; it is probably a translation of a typical American one.

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    Hehe, right. In NYC people may not respond at all and that's just fine :)
    – user259
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:25
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  • oтлично (excellent)

  • (Очень) хорошó ((very) good)

  • нормáльно (all right)

  • ничего (OK / so-so)

  • неплóхо (not bad; negation of the following word)

  • так себе (not very good)

  • плóхо (bad)

  • хуже некуда \ хуже не бывает (can't be worse)

An example dialog where such variants can be used:

-Привет! Как дела?

-Очень хорошо, спасибо. А у тебя?

-Тóже хорошó (good, too)

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The response как сажа бела, which rhymes with the question, is sarcastic, literally meaning "as white as soot" and implying that things are going from bad to worse.

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In addition to the previous post, I'd like to list more variants:

Неважно - Things are not too good.
Более-менее - More or less OK.
Ужасно - Terrible.

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Assuming small talk situation, 99% of the time the response will be "Нормально все"

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    It is ungrammatical. Should be "всё нормально".
    – Anixx
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 9:38
  • @Anixx are you sure that it is ungrammatical? Нормально все with this phrase
    – hazzik
    Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 22:45
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    It has different meaning. "У тебя проблемы? Может тебе помочь?" - "Да нормально все, отстаньте". As a response to "Как дела?" it is incorrect. It conveys the meaning of being repeatedly annoyed. It suggests the questioner to shut up.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 23:12

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