How to go aht urhgan whitegate

Can the polite form ‘How are you’ be shortened to ‘How are you’?

The casual contraction how are you does not have any personal pronouns. It can therefore mean all of the following:

How are you / you / you?

It is indeed possible to ask someone "Wie geht's" even if you address them with "Sie" otherwise.

Still, whenever we need to be formal or polite we may not want to leave the impression of being casual. To be on the safe side we then may better ask "How are you?" (even though being asked "How are you" is likely not being perceived as disrespectful) or do not ask this at all. We have to keep in mind that asking this in a formal setting is by far not as common as it is in English. It may lead to some confusion if the answer was different to "Danke, gut" but you were not at all prepared to talk about the other person's well-being.

As a rule of thumb we may use the casual form if we had met the person several times before, or are in an otherwise not too formal relationship.

Examples:

  • Neighbors meet: "Hello Mr. Maier, how are you?"
  • A medical doctor asks you: "Hello Ms. Müller, how are you today?"
  • We are at work where the "Du" was discouraged for some reason (e.g. by corporate policy).

On the other hand we can also ask close friends or family members with the long un-contracted version.

How are you?

This may then indicate our honest interest where it likely will initiate a conversation on personal matters.