How Are You in Serbian: 7 Simple Ways to Ask (With Responses)

A hand holding a pink mug with the caption “doing okay”

Whether you live in Serbia or have Serbian friends, basic phrases can make a huge difference. Once you’ve memorized simple greetings, it’s time to learn how to ask questions about people’s well-being. In other words, you need to know how to say How are you in Serbian. 

But, like in your mother tongue, there are many ways to say the same thing. However, not all of the expressions are appropriate for every situation. For that reason, knowing when to use each phrase will help you avoid awkward situations. After all, you don’t want to get in trouble for saying –‘Sup– to your boss, do you? So here are 7 simple ways to ask How are you in Serbian, with responses.

1. Kako si?

Firstly, let’s start with the most common way to ask How are you in Serbian. The most straightforward phrase is “Kako si?”. It’s a no-brainer, as it means simply “How are you?”. Since it’s a universal expression, it’s safe to use anytime and anywhere. However, for a more formal or respectful tone, you should say “Kako ste?” (think business meeting or talking to an older person).

Although this is a simple question, there are many ways to respond. The easy way is to say “Dobro sam” (I’m fine), or “Nisam baš dobro” (I’m not that great). Here are some alternative ways to answer this question:

  • Odlično sam! (I’m great!)
  • Nikad bolje! (I’ve never been better.)
  • Nisam nikako. (I’m not fine at all.)
  • Onako. (So-so.)
  • Bezveze sam. (I feel kinda bad.)
  • Biće bolje. (It’ll be better.)
  • Držim se. (I’m hanging in there.)
Eggs with drawn faces in a cardboard container. The central egg has a sad face.
Kako si? Nisam nikako 😞

Bonus expression: Kako su tvoji? (How’s your family?)

A majority of Serbs are family-oriented, so if you ask about their folks they’ll appreciate it and feel like you really care.

2. Jesi li dobro?

This question conveys a genuine concern for someone’s well-being. It means “Are you okay?”, and it’s not a casual greeting. So how can you use it? If you see your friend looking pale, stressed out, or tired, you can use this question. Another situation that warrants this phrase is if you know someone is having problems or struggling. Also, this question requires a proper answer, so it’s best to be sincere. For example:

  • Dobro sam. (I’m fine.)
  • Nisam baš najbolje. (Im not that great.)
  • Prehladio/prehladila sam se. (I caught a cold.)
  • Umoran/umorna sam.  (I’m tired.)

3. Kako ide?

Kako ide” is a handy phrase. Since it simply means “How’s it going?” it’s easy to use. More precisely, it’s a nice thing to say to someone who’s in the middle of doing something. For example, if your friend is studying, you can ask: “Kako ide?”. Or, if you see your neighbor mowing their lawn, you can show interest in their work by using this phrase. 

The simple answer is “Ide” (it’s going well) or “Ne ide baš” (it’s not going that well). But again, there are many ways to react to this question. For example:

  • Ide odlično. (It’s going great.)
  • Nema problema. (No problem.)
  • K’o podmazano. (It’s going smoothly.)
  • Ne ide nikako. (It’s not going well at all.)

4. Šta ima?

Admittedly, we don’t always need to ask about our friends’ well-being and health, especially when we see them regularly. But isn’t it weird to say nothing at all? That’s why we have “Šta ima?”. It means “What’s up”, it’s chill, and you don’t even need to answer. But if you want to, you can respond with “Evo.” This word means nothing, but it serves as a casual greeting. However, be careful, as these phrases are unsuitable for a work environment and formal occasions.

Other possible answers are:

  • Ništa posebno. (Nothing special.)
  • Nema ništa. Dosađujem se. (Nothing. I’m bored.)
  • Evo, radim. (I’m working.)
Šta ima? Ništa posebno, dosađujem se 🥱

5. Šta ima novo?

Unlike the previous phrase, this one shows a genuine interest. It means “What’s new?” and you can use it when you see someone after a while. Naturally, you can ask this question when you want an update or want to know if something happened since you last saw your friend. So, how can you respond? The simplest way is to say “Ništa posebno” (nothing special). Alternatively, you can open up and tell your friend all the juicy details and recent events. 

And when you’re done talking about yourself, don’t forget to ask the same question. You can ask:

  • Šta ima novo kod tebe? (What’s new with you?)
  • Šta ima kod tebe? (What’s up with you?)
  • A kod tebe? (And you?)

6. ‘De si?

Even though the literal translation is “Where are you?”, we don’t use this phrase to ask for location. In fact, “‘De si?” is short for “Gde si?” and it’s a very informal way to ask: “What’s up?”. Again, there’s no need to answer, but you can reply with the same question or say: “Evo.” As a part of casual communication, it’s a natural way to greet someone without getting into details. However, since this is slang, steer clear of it in a formal setting.

Dog giving a high five
‘De si? Evo, ti? ✋

7. Šta radiš?

Šta radiš” is another way to ask: “What’s up?”. Since it’s neither formal nor informal, it works in every situation. As with the previous phrases, the easy response is “Evo”. But you can respond with these as well:

  • Ništa posebno. (Nothing special.)
  • Evo, radim. (I’m working.)
  • Odmaram. (I’m taking a rest.)
  • Uživam. (I’m enjoying.)
  • Učim. (I’m studying.)
  • Spremam večeru. (I’m making dinner.)

Also don’t forget to return the question: “A ti?” (And you?).

What’s “Evo” and Why It’s the Perfect Word

Evo” is a universal word, which means you can use it in practically any situation. It can mean “here” or “here it is,” but in most cases, it’s what you say when you have nothing to say. So, the beauty of “evo” lies in the fact that, by using this three-letter word, you can avoid being rude and still say nothing at all. For example:

Q: Kako si? (How are you?)

A: Evo. (No meaning.)

Q: Kako ide? (How’s it going?)

A: Evo. (No meaning.)

As you can see, this word can help you pretend like you’re engaging in a conversation with zero effort.

Practice Asking How Are You in Serbian

Now that you know different ways to ask How are you in Serbian, try out various expressions and see how they work in everyday situations. This way, you’ll not only practice speaking Serbian but also show people that you care about them. After all, the best way to learn a language is to use it in daily life. 

So if you want to practice these expressions with a group of learners who share your goals and struggles, try out our Group Serbian conversation lessons, and put your knowledge to use.

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