How to ask "How do you do?" in Latin. Quomodo te habes, is it common?
What other common greetings for the "How are you?" exist?

I have seen:

  • Quomodo es?
  • Quid agis?
  • Quomodo te habes?

1 Answer 1


I would not use quomodo es. It is a calque of the English phrase and does not strike me as sensible Latin. Of course, if someone finds attestations in reliable sources, I am ready to revert my opinion. Translated another way, quomodo es? is "in what way are you?", and that should give a hint at the unnatural nature of the phrase. Many idioms are unnatural but have become common, but the same turn of phrase is not necessarily sensible in all languages.

If you were to expand the English question "how are you?" to "how are you feeling?", you would get better translations. For example, ut vales? is a good way to ask for health, and it is the classically attested choice. Mind you that I would take that as an actual question, not a mere greeting. Quomodo te habes? and quomodo vales? are essentially synonymous to it but are more recent choices — I am only familiar with them as phrases used in contemporary Latin in Finland, and I claim no classical precedent. If you want to stick to what the Romans would have said, then ut vales? is the way to go.

Quid agis? is a good question, but it's more directly "what are you doing?". I wouldn't use it for "how do you do?" or "how are you?" but "what's up?".

Both ut vales? and quid agis? are classically attested phrases and therefore your best and safest choices. Both are found in the play Persa by Plautus.

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    I think quid agis? is indeed the best match, often used like "what's up?". I would add ut vales? and ut valetur? for the "how are you feeling?" flavour. Nov 7, 2019 at 11:25
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    I wonder about Valesne? Nov 8, 2019 at 18:17
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    @TimLymingtonsupportsMonica That sounds more like "Are you ok?" to me, not really a greeting.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Nov 8, 2019 at 18:38
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    @tony I'm 99% positive that "mihi placet" can't be used like that any more than "I like" can in English. The reason it's given as an option on Glosbe is that someone mistranslated it as "encantado/enchanteé", which can be used this way in Portuguese, Spanish and French. Glosbe should not be used as a source or as a learning material. It can be used as a source for some useful suggestions when you can already reliably spot if those are as far off as in this case. Oct 14, 2020 at 15:14
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    May I also draw everyone's attention to Eleanor Dickey's book Learning Latin the Ancient Way: Latin Textbooks from the Ancient World - a real gem! cambridge.org/core/books/learning-latin-the-ancient-way/… You can find lots of useful material there, e.g. "-Quid agis? - Omnia recte. Quomodo habes?"
    – Alex B.
    Feb 21, 2021 at 18:34

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