What about you

Learning other languages could be an exciting activity, and it could take learning beyond words. It explores the social and cultural value of phrases commonly used during individual and group conversations. In this busy life, one may or may not be able to take up formal learning of another language, but learning some common phrases well could help communicate in situations like greetings, introduction, asking simple questions, expressing gratitude, and respectfully handling social situations. Most phrases have cultural, religious, and traditional backgrounds.

There are three steps:

  1. Direct Translation of a word
  2. Context and how to use it properly
  3. Social and cultural value of a phrase

Let’s start with English language phrases for a native Hindi-speaking person. One of the most commonly spoken languages in India and other neighboring countries. A good understanding of everyday English language phrases can enhance one’s ability to communicate with natives and non-natives, which can help one navigate different situations quickly and confidently, whether traveling for leisure, work, or research. These phrases are used commonly across the world when communicating in English. 

Understanding context in translation

Understanding the context of conversation is very important while translating phrases from one language to another, as context can change the meanings significantly. Listening to complete sentences and even body language could substantially affect the proper understanding of phrases from another language. Phrases not only carry literal translation but also cultural underlying qualities or feelings.

Practicing phrases

As they say, practice makes a man perfect. One should not hesitate to use phrases in day-to-day conversations. However, one must use respect, curiosity, patience, and positive body language while communicating with others.

“What about you?” (āpkē bārē mēṅ kyā?) “आपके बारे में क्या?”

“What about you?” in English is used as a reciprocal question, usually used after one shares information about her/himself, to get information from the person conversing with on a similar matter.

The phrase ‘what about you’ can be used in multiple situations to ask somebody what his or her opinion, experience, or contribution is.

If people are sitting at a table, then ‘what about you’ means what do you want to order from the menu?

If you are building a deck, then ‘what about you’ means what you think we should do.

In English culture, it is expected that every person gets the chance to contribute their opinion or experience. Therefore, it is important to ask this question in group conversations or everyday conversations between two. This will make conversation pleasant and will be expressing consideration for others.

“What Do You Do?” (āp kyā kām kartē haiṅ?) “आप क्या काम करते हैं?”

“What do you do?” is used to ask someone a specific question about what one does for a living. How do you say “What do you do” in Hindi? It will depend on the gender, frankness with the addressee, and mood at the time of conversation, as some people could take it a bit disrespectful when asked about their profession, which is often linked to their social status. 

This phrase is used in English for all during the conversation. Usually after the greetings and introduction, but not right at the beginning of conversations. In the case of Hindi, one needs to be a bit more careful about gender, social status sensitivities, etc., when asking someone about what he or she is doing for a living. In Hindi, pay attention to gender and hierarchy as follows:

Do:                  “karte” for muscular and “karti” for feminine

You:                “tum” informal and “aap” for formal or when respecting hierarchy 

“What’s Up?” (kyā chal rahā hai?) “क्या चल रहा है?”

“What’s up” is used as a greeting somewhat similar to hello. How to say “What’s up” in Hindi? It will depend on the situation. There could be multiple phrases used in Hindi, depending on the situation. Commonly used equal phrases in Hindi are “kiya haal hai”, “Kiya kar rehe hu” or “kiya chal raha hai” 

If you meet someone and want to know what he or she is doing, you can say, “kiya kar rehe hu”. When meeting someone, if you want to know how he or she is feeling, you can say, “kiya haal hai.” If you want to know what is going on, you can say, “kiya chal raha hai.” This can also be used as a probing question in both positive and negative situations.

The phrase captures an informal essence of the original English greeting, asking for an update on the life or immediate surroundings of the person conversing with.

“What Happened?” (kyā hu’ā?) “क्या हुआ?”

In the English language, this phrase is used when one feels that something has occurred and wants to know from the other person what happened, seeking clarity or a bit of detail. This is pretty straightforward and can be used for all genders and levels.

“Where Are You From?” (āp kahāṅ se haiṅ?) “आप कहाँ से हैं?”

This phrase, “Where are you from?” is used similarly and for the same purpose in English and Hindi, i.e., to know about the geographic or cultural origin of the person conversing with. This serves to build context around an individual who is meeting for the first time.

“What Are You Doing?” (aap kya kar rahe hain?) आप क्या कर रहे हैं?

Both in English and Hindi, the phrase “what are you doing” is used in a similar way and for the same purpose, i.e., to know about the current activity of the person conversing with. This can be used in informal settings.

“How Are You Doing?” (aap kaise hain?) आप कैसे हैं?

The phrase “How are you doing?” is used to ask the person conversing about her/his well-being. Depending on the tone and body language, it shows genuine inquiry and concern about the other person’s well-being. It can be used both in formal and informal conversations by paying attention to the tone and body language/gestures.

“Keep It Up” (ise jaari rakho) “इसे जारी रखो” Or (ise banae rakhen) “इसे बनाए रखें”

In Hindi, there are two phrases commonly that serve the same purpose, i.e.,’ saying someone to maintain it, which means the same in English “keep it up.” In other words, it means moving forward the same way. If someone achieves something important, parents, elders, friends, or seniors at work may say, “ise jaari rakho” i.e.’ “keep it up.”

“Entrepreneurship” (Udyamitā) “उद्यमिता”

In English, “Entrepreneurship” means setting up one’s own business by taking initiative and taking on business risks. In Hindi, the close words are “Udyamita” or “Karobar” which means business adventure.

“Never Give Up” (Kabhī hār mat māno) “कभी हार मत मानो”

In English, “Never Give Up” is used as a motivational phrase to encourage a person not to stop trying to achieve her/his goal, even in difficult circumstances. The Hindi phrase  (Kabhī hār mat māno) means exactly the same, which reflects sincere intention and moral support for the success of the other person.

“Who is this?” (Yeh kaun hai?) “यह कौन है?”

The English phrase “Who is this?” is used to ask someone her/his identity. This is often used when picking up the phone or responding to a door knock. In Hindi, it has a similar meaning and is used in the same situations, i.e. (aap kaun hai Or Yeh kaun hai).

“Toxic person” (Vishaila vyakti) “विषैला व्यक्ति”

In English, the term “Toxic person” describes someone’s behavior that is mostly negative, harmful, unpleasant, and with whom most people don’t want to be around. In Hindi, traditionally, “Vishaila vyakti” or “Zahreela aadmi” is used to describe a “toxic person”. 


Understanding phrases from one language to another is not only about literal meanings; it’s more about getting to cultural value and the context in which a phrase is being used. This can make conversations smooth and meaningful and avoid misunderstandings and confusion.

Learning well and practicing phrases from another language can help bridge gaps and build stronger connections between cultures, whether professional or personal.  

Do not hesitate to practice phrases from another language; instead, take the language learning with curiosity, exercise patience, use body language as support, and enjoy the exchange of culture through linguistic tools.

Key takeaways

  1. Translation is not all about word-to-word meaning: Consider the context first and then get to the essence of the phrase. Pay attention to the body language, not only the word-to-word meaning.
  2. Language is more about the culture: The cultural importance of phrases is more significant than literal meaning, so it’s essential to understand the cultural meanings that come with them.
  3. Practice is crucial to success in learning another language: One can master understanding phrases from another language through practicing with natives. Only practice will make one perfect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *