Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you know what to say when someone asks you, “What are you up to?”

Today find out the best ways to respond to small talk questions and greetings in English like “how have you been?” and “what are you up to?” for better conversations and better connections in English.

“Hi Lindsay and Michelle. I am Jan, an avid listener of AEE from Singapore.

I am intermediate to advanced in reading and listening because I can understand any listening material but not in speaking.

I find myself struggling to connect with people in many conversations. For instance, I have a friend who usually starts a conversation by asking, “Hi how have you been?” followed by “What are you up to?” almost every time we see each other.

Honestly, the second question makes me lose the connection because I’m not sure how to respond.

I understand that it means something like “what are you doing?” but I still get confused.

Should I tell her what I have done in the past few days? What I am doing at the moment? Or what I am planning to do?”

-Jan, AEE Listener

This is a great question from Jan!

“What are you up to?”

What does this mean? It means “What are you doing right now?” if the person sees you regularly.

If the person does not see you very often and it’s someone who is checking in with you after 6 months or a year it would mean “What is going on in your life?” or it could still mean “What are you doing right now?””

How do we respond?

  • “Oh not much, you?”
  • “Oh not much. What about you?”
  • “Oh not a whole lot. What about you?”
  • “I am working on my new project. What are you doing?”

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“What have you been up to?”

This is more often used when you sit down with someone and catch up.

How do we answer it?

  • “Oh not much”
  • “Not too much”
  • “Not a whole lot”

If you are confused about what they are asking about:

  • “Are you asking about this moment?”
  • “You mean right now?”

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

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