The phrase “What are you up to?” is a common question in casual conversations among friends, family members, and acquaintances. It can be used as a simple greeting or an invitation to share information about your current activities.
Let’s discuss the true meaning of “what are you up to” and how to respond to such situations. After reading this, I recommend you also check this article: What Have You Been Up To?
What is The Meaning of “What Are You Up To”
The phrase “what are you up to?” can have multiple meanings in different contexts.
- It can be used as a greeting, a way of saying hello between friends.
- It is a conversational way of showing interest in what the other person is doing.
- It can be used to strike up a flirtatious conversation.
- It can be used to check if someone is busy or has time to talk.
- It can be used to check if the person has any upcoming plans.
It is generally interpreted as an invitation to talk about the other person’s current activities and plans. The speaker is asking the listener to open up and share what they are currently doing.
When To Ask “What Are Up To”
The phrase “what are you up to?” may be used in various scenarios.
You may say it when meeting someone briefly or someone they haven’t seen in a while. It is typically used among people you know, such as friends, family members, or those you have a good relationship with, as it is informal.
If you want to check what the person is doing for the day and want to make plans with them, you may ask them this question first.
It can also be used to check on someone’s progress or ensure they are doing well. For example, a person might ask their friend, “what are you up to?” when they haven’t seen them in a while and want to ensure everything is going okay.
How to Answer “What Have You Up To”
If you’re busy with something, it is best to give a brief overview of what you are doing at the moment. For example, if you are studying for an exam, you may say, “I’m studying for my exam right now. How about you?”
On the other hand, if you don’t have any plans or are not doing anything in particular, it is okay to be honest and simply say that. For example, “I don’t have any plans right now. What about you?”
If you haven’t seen the person in a long time, feel free to give updates about the bigger events in your life.
Finally, when responding to “what are you up to?” make sure to ask the other person what they are currently doing as well to keep the conversation going.
Examples of How to Respond to “What Are You Up To”
Here are some examples of how to respond to the phrase “what are you up to?”
- I’m just chilling at home. You?
- I’m working on a project for my class. How about you?
- I don’t have any plans right now— what are you doing?
- I’m planning a weekend getaway. What about you?
Sometimes, people ask, “what are you up to for the weekend” or “what are you up to today,” so they can find out your plans. In this case, you can simply state your plans for the weekend and ask the same question back.
- I’m going camping with some friends. What about you?
- I’m taking a road trip to the beach. What are you up to this weekend?
- I’m having a game night with a friend. What are your plans for the weekend?
Feel free to share what you are doing and if anything exciting is happening! Typically, you don’t need to give a long response to “What are you up to.” It can be as short as “nothing much” or “just hanging out.”
Example Conversation with “What Are You Up To”
We can apply the phrase “What are you up to?” in a conversation between two friends.
Person 1: Hey, what are you up to?
Person 2: Just catching up on some work. How about you?
Person 1: I’m trying to plan a surprise party for my friend’s birthday. What do you think I should do?
Person 2: That sounds great! Have you thought about going to the new restaurant that opened up in town? I heard they do some excellent catering.
Person 1: That’s a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion.
In this conversation, Person 1 asked, “What are you up to?” as a way to show interest and check in on Person 2. Then, Person 1 asked for advice and input on their planned surprise party.
This is a great example of how “What are you up to?” can be used as an invitation to discuss current activities and plans.
Alternatives To “What Are You To?”
The phrase “What are you up to?” is a common and friendly way of asking someone about their current activities. However, if you want to ask the same question differently, here are some alternatives you can try:
- What are you doing right now?
- How’s your day going?
- What have you got going on?
- Fill me in on what’s happening.
- Any news?
- What’s up?
“What are you up to?” can sometimes be pronounced like “what ya up to” or “whatcha up to” when speaking informally.
“What Are You Up To” In Text Messages
The phrase “What are you up to?” can also be used when texting or messaging someone online. In this case, it still has the same meaning as in a face-to-face conversation— asking what the person is currently doing and if they would like to share more details. It is often sent in text messages among teens and young adults.
If a guy asks someone he is attracted to, “What are you up to?” in a text message, it can also be interpreted as him wanting to meet or get to know them. In this case, the person can respond, return the question, and see where the conversation goes from there. In this case, “What are you up to?” may be a flirty way to start a conversation.
The phrase “What are you up to?” is a friendly and casual way of asking someone what they are currently doing.
When responding, you can briefly overview your current activities or simply say that you don’t have any plans right now. You can also use alternatives such as “What are you doing?” or “How’s your day going?” if you want to ask the same question differently.
Finally, when texting someone, “What are you up to?” may also be interpreted as a flirty way of starting a conversation.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.