As you get more advanced in Spanish, you’ll start to discover nuances of the language. Even for something as simple as greeting someone, there are hundreds of ways to say the same thing. You may be familiar with “¿Cómo estás?” as one of the most common ways to ask someone “How are you?” But do you know the difference between como estas and como te va, and know how to accent these words properly?
Knowing when to use the right greeting in Spanish depends on a few things. Let’s break down the factors that can help you figure out what expression you should use:
- Context. Are you trying to ask someone generally how they have been, like, “I haven’t seen you in awhile! How are you?” Or are you trying to ask them specifically how they have been doing with something?
- Formality. What greeting you use should be influenced by who you’re talking to and where. If you just met someone, you’ll be more likely to use a more formal greeting. The same thing goes for talking to people who are older or if you are in very professional settings. We may not have an equivalent of “usted” in English or a formal way of saying “you.” But just like in English, native Spanish speakers will usually greet their friends and family different from someone like their college professor.
Main difference between “cómo estás” and “cómo te va”
The answer that most people give about when to use “Cómo estás” and when to use “Cómo te va” is:
|¿Cómo estás?||How are you?||Informal|
|¿Cómo te va?||How’s it going?||Even more informal|
“Cómo estás” and “cómo te va” are both informal ways of asking “how are you?” but ““cómo te va” is even more informal. These are good general rules to follow, but details like accents can change the meaning.
Uses of “cómo estás” in Spanish:
Basic Spanish greetings
|Hola, ¿cómo estás?||Hi, how are you?|
|Hola, muy bien. ¿Y tú?||Hi, I’m well. And you?
|Hola, muy bien, gracias. ¿Y usted?||Hi, I’m well. And you?
|Hola, mucho gusto. ¿Cómo estás?||Hi, nice to meet you. How are you?|
|Siento mucho que te hayas enfermado. ¿Y cómo estás ahora?||I am very sorry to hear that you got sick. And How are you now?|
“Como éstas:” Comparing things
Accents make a big difference with the meaning of como estas! When “como” has no accent with the phrase, it means it’s comparing something, and isn’t just a greeting.
|Como éstas (no accent on “como”)||Since these, like these|
|Estoy buscando más canciones como éstas.||I am looking for more songs like these.|
|Como éstas escuelas son privadas, los estudiantes pagan matricula.||Since these schools are private, students pay tuition.|
Remember that sometimes when people are writing to each other informally like through texting, accents get dropped. So context is also a big clue.
Uses of “cómo te va” in Spanish
As mentioned earlier, “cómo te va” is a more informal greeting to use in Spanish with people who are more on the level of friends or when you are in very casual settings.
Basic Spanish greetings
|Hace tiempo que no nos vemos! ¿Cómo te va?||It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other! How’s it going?|
|Sí, hace mucho tiempo! Bien, estudiando como loco. ¿Y en qué andas tú?||Yes, it’s been a long time! Good, studying like crazy. And what have you been up to?|
|Hola, mucho gusto. Me llamo Sara. ¿Cómo te va?||Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Sara. How’s it going?
**(only for very informal introductions, like through friends).
|Hola Sara, me llamo Daniel. Muy bien, gracias. Y tú?||Hi Sara, my name is Daniel. Very good, thanks. And you?|
Asking how something specific is going
|¿Cómo te va con los ensayos?||How are you doing with the essays?|
|Más o menos bien, el tema es complicado.||More or less good, the topic is complicated.|
|Amigo, escuché que estás abriendo un restaurante. ¿Cómo te va con eso?||Buddy, I heard you are opening a restaurant. How are you doing with that?|
|Si, ¡estoy muy entusiasmado! Nos toca hacer mucho antes de abrir, pero ya casi estamos listos.||Yes, I am very excited! We have a lot to do before we open, but we are almost ready.|
With this knowledge, you know the difference between “cómo te va” and “cómo estás” as basic Spanish greetings, and understand how “como éstas” can be used. Now get out there and start some conversations!