Day 1: How are you? Transcript

Welcome to 30 Days of Intonation. Today is Day 1 of 30 Days of Intonation and today we’re going to look at a very simple question that can be used very effectively using different stress and intonation patterns.

Today we’re going to talk about “How are you?”

This seems like a very simple question, but depending on the emotion or attitude that you want to show through your voice, you can change it in order to fit that particular expression of your idea.

Let’s take a look at the basic intonation pattern of “How are you?”

You will ask the question “how are you?” with this rise in the middle of the sentence because it’s an information question.

So if the person who’s asking you “how are you?” has a neutral tone, they’re just inquiring about how you’re doing, they’re going to put the intonation in the middle of the sentence: how are you? It’s a very simple question. 

If someone has asked you the question and you’re repeating the question back to them, you’re actually going to raise your voice and stress the word “you” because you’re repeating the question back to them: how are YOU?

They’re asking you, so you’re pointing right at that person but actually using your voice: how are YOU? - emphasizing this question.

If you are excited to see somebody and you haven’t seen them in a long time, you might show extra enthusiasm with your voice.

So you’re going to stress the word “are” and you’re going to keep your intonation light and happy: How ARE you?

You’re so excited to see them: How ARE you? 

If maybe you’re worried about the person, there’s been an accident, there’s been something that happened to them, and you want to make sure that they’re doing okay, you’re going to say “how are you?” with worried intonation: How are you??? How are you???

It’s going to sound a little more rushed, you’re going to emphasize “are,” and you’re going to keep kind of that intonation and the position of your voice showing worry and concern: How are you??? You’re very concerned about them.

If you want to show concern or sympathy for someone because perhaps they’ve had a loss in the family or some sort of tragedy, you’re going to say “How are you…” and you’re going to look at them with sympathy in your eyes:
How are you…

And you’re going to have that little fall because you’re probably not really asking it as a question.

It’s a statement - you know that the person has been suffering some sort of challenging emotion or challenging situation so you’re going to show that through your intonation. It’s showing sympathy: How are you…

If you don’t really like somebody and you’re not particularly interested in hearing how they’re doing, you’re going to ask “How are you.” “How are you.” with a kind of flat intonation.

And this flat intonation is the reason that you need to practice different intonation patterns, because if your default intonation is very flat, it sounds like you’re annoyed at that person.

You only want to use flat intonation with “How are you?” if you’re actually annoyed at the person or not interested in hearing what they have to say, because that’s what you’re signalling with your voice: disinterest. How are you. How are you. There’s no interest there.

So what I suggest that you do with these different intonation patterns for this very simple question is repeat them. So now what I want you to do is to rewatch the video and hit pause in order to practice the different intonation patterns because they do take practice.

Listen to it a few times, practice imitating the different patterns I’m showing you with my voice, and you’ll soon be able to express so many different emotions and attitudes with such a simple question.

I hope you have enjoyed Day 1 of the 30 Days of Intonation challenge. Once again I’m Kim from, I’m your guide to the essential conversation skills you need to sound more natural in English. 

30 Days of Intonation

Tune Your Tone with One Month of Daily Practice

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