This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Jessica Gibson. Jessica Gibson is a Writer and Editor who's been with wikiHow since 2014. After completing a year of art studies at the Emily Carr University in Vancouver, she graduated from Columbia College with a BA in History. Jessica also completed an MA in History from The University of Oregon in 2013.
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The English language is full of unusual idioms that can be hard to understand unless you're a native speaker. "What have you been up to?" is one that you might not have heard before. Basically, if someone asks, "What have you been up to?" they're asking what you've been doing since the two of you last spoke. Keep reading for examples of what you can say and when or why you'd use each reply.
Things You Should Know
- Tell the person what you've been doing since you last saw them to answer the question "What have you been up to?"
- Be as detailed with your answer as you like. If you're not in the mood to talk, that's fine—just keep your reply brief.
- Tell them what you've been doing, then ask what they've been up to. This is a great way to keep the conversation going and be polite.
1"I've just been working."
- Tell them what you've been doing that day. You can be as detailed or straightforward as you like. For instance, instead of just saying, "I've been hanging out with friends," you could tell them, "I saw a movie with William and Ali." The first response is kind of generic and you could use it when you talk with someone you don't know too well like a boss or co-worker. Use a more specific response for a friend or relative.XResearch source
- "I've been lazy this morning—just watching a show." If you're talking to a friend, describe the show and tell them what you thought about it.
- "I've been hanging out with some classmates." For a longer explanation, tell what you did or who you spent time with.
- "I've just been getting ready for this evening." To go into more detail, tell them how you got read or talk about what's happening that evening.
2"I finally got around to doing that project."
- Answer them by referring to past conversations. If you're speaking with a friend, you probably remember what you talked about the last time you were together. To jumpstart your current conversation, give them an update. For instance, if you spoke about travel plans in the past, use your answer to describe the amazing trip you ended up taking.
- "I've been reading that book you recommended. It was fantastic! Do you have any other suggestions?"
- "Remember how I was thinking about changing classes? Well, I did end up switching."
- "I tried that restaurant we were curious about. You would like it. Do you want to grab lunch there today?"
3"I've been volunteering at the library."
- Share personal, exciting, or important news. To catch up with someone you know well, tell them what new or important things have been happening in your life. This can be any type of event that had a big impact on your life—maybe a close relative died, you were offered a great job, or you decided to move.XResearch source
- "I started my own business! I've even got a booth at the farmer's market."
- "I’ve been taking Spanish lessons at the community center."
- "I traveled to British Columbia last month to see family."
4"Not a lot."
- Give a simple, vague response if you don't feel like talking. It's completely fine if you don't want to share what's been happening in your life or maybe you just don't know the person very well—like if you're talking to your employer. To quickly answer their question while still being polite, give a basic, straightforward response.
- "Nothing special."
- "Well, not much has been happening."
- "Not much really."
5"You know—work and school."
- Keep your response short if there's not much to tell. You don't have to give a lengthy or detailed response, especially if not much has changed since you last spoke. Give an answer that lets them know things are pretty much the same as they were.XResearch source
- "I've just been working and hanging out with friends—nothing new."
- "I’ve been busy, but with the same project I was working on earlier".
- "Oh, same old same old."
6"Not much, and you?"
- Ask how they're doing if you want them to talk more. This response flips the question back to the person who asked it so it's up to them to continue the conversation. If you keep your reply short like this, it signals to them that you're curious about what they've been up to.
- "Just the usual. What about you? Did you end up finishing school?"
- "You know me—nothing has changed. But what have you been up to? Are you still planning on trying out for the play? "
- "Oh, nothing interesting. What have you been up to? I heard that you have had some good luck lately."
- Occasionally, this idiom is used to accuse someone of doing something. For instance, if a teenager comes home after curfew, their parent might be waiting up for them to sternly say, "What have you been up to?" because they suspect the teen was breaking house rules.