“What Are You Up To” Meaning and Response

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning that when you make a purchase, I earn a small commission. Affiliate links cost you nothing to use and help keep my content free. It is a win-win for us both! For more info, see the Disclosure Policy.

“What are you up to,” is a vague expression you may hear in your day-to-day life when you meet your friends or in the media. But what does it really mean?

This blog post will discuss the meaning of “what are you up to” and provide some response examples.

What Does “What Are You up To” Mean?

When someone asks, “what are you up to,” they want to know what you’re doing. This can include what you’re doing right now or your plans for later that day.

This question is a way to say “hello” and start a conversation.

It could be a question you ask someone who you know well or want to get to know better. Maybe you haven’t heard from someone in a while and want to check on them.

A Way of Asking if Someone Is Busy

In some cases, “what are you up to” can be a way of asking if someone is busy. For example, if you want to ask a friend to hang out but aren’t sure if they’re free, you might say, “what are you up to tonight?” They’ll likely give you a specific answer about their plans if they’re busy.

When To Ask “What Are You up To”

“What are you up to” can be used in various situations. You might use it when talking to a friend or meeting someone for the first time. It’s also a common question to ask on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter.

How To Respond to “What Are You up To”

You can respond to “what you are up to” in a number of ways, depending on your mood and the situation. There’s no right or wrong answer– it’s all about how you feel in the moment.

Short responses are often best. Some common responses include “nothing much,” or “not much.”

If you’re unsure what to say, just tell the person your plans for the day.

Examples of How to Respond to “What Are You up To”

Often people give a vague response to “what are you up to.” You don’t need to give too much detail. Here are some examples:

  • “Not much. What about you?”
  • “Just work. What are you doing?
  • “Just the usual. You?
  • “Just hanging out.”
  • “Nothing new.”
  • “I’m a little busy right now. I’ll call you back later!”

If you want to be more specific, you can tell the person your plans for the day:

  • “I’m just about to finish up at work, and then I’m going home.”
  • “I’m meeting a friend for coffee in a little bit.”
  • “I’m not sure yet. I was thinking about going for a walk.”
  • “I’m just relaxing at home. I might watch a movie or something.”

If you want to give a spontaneous, funny answer, you could say something like:

  • “I’m up to no good!”
  • “I’m up to my ears in work!”
  • “I’m up to my neck in debt!”
  • “I’m up to my eyeballs in laundry!”

“What Are You up To” in Texting

The expression “what are you up to” is also used in texting, dating, and casual online conversations.

“What are you up to” could also be used as a way to start a conversation with someone you find attractive on a dating site such as Tinder.

According to Google search, there is a high volume of people who want to know flirty responses to “what are you up to,” “what are you up to tonight,” or “what are you up to now.” So, let’s think about ways to make our response more flirtatious.

Here are a few examples of flirty responses to “what are you up to” via text:

  • Hey, I haven’t talked to you in a while. I’m just finishing my project. What are you up to?
  • What are you doing tonight? I’m free and looking for something to do.
  • I’m bored, what are you up to? Want some company?
  • Hey, I was just thinking about you. What are you up to?
  • I’m just cooking dinner. Want to come over?
  • I’m just with my friends. Wish you were here!

These responses let the other person know you’re thinking about them and want to spend time with them. If you’re unsure how the other person will react, you could always start with a less flirtatious response and see how they respond.

Example Conversation With “What Are You up To”

Example 1:

  • Person A: Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What are you up to?
  • Person B: Just finished my finals, and I’m about to go on vacation. How about you?
  • Person A: Oh, where are you going on vacation? I just started my new job. It’s been busy, but I’m enjoying it.
  • Person B: That’s so exciting… (conversation continues)

Example 2:

  • Person A: I’m bored. What are you up to?
  • Person B: Just watching TV. You?
  • Person A: Nothing much. Have you started revising yet?
  • Person B: For which test? I’ve been… (conversation continues)

Example 3:

  • Person A: What are you up to now? Wanna go grab some lunch?
  • Person B: Yeah, that sounds great. I’m just finishing up my work for the day. Let me get my things and meet you in front of the building.
  • Person A: Great, see you soon!

When It’s Not Appropriate to Ask, “What Are You up To”

There are a few situations where it’s not appropriate to ask, “what are you up to.” As this is an informal question, it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask your boss or superior, “what are you up to.”

Alternative Ways to Say “What Are You up To”

  • What you up to?
  • What are you doing right now?
  • What are your plans?
  • How are you doing?
  • What’s new with you?
  • What have you been up to?
  • What’s up?
  • What’s new?
  • What’s new with you?
  • How are things?

Here are some other examples of questions you could ask to find out if someone is busy:

  • What are you doing this weekend?
  • Do you have time for a quick chat?
  • When are you free?
  • Are you busy?

“What Have You Been up To” vs. “What Are You up To”

The expression “what have you been up to” is similar to “what are you up to.” They both mean, “what are you doing?” The main difference is that “what have you been up to” is the present perfect tense and asks what they have done recently since you last spoke.

An example of when you might use “what have you been up to” would be if you ran into an old friend. You might say, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What have you been up to?” In this case, you are asking about everything they have done since you last saw them.

Learn more here: “What Have You Been Up To” Meaning and Response.

What Are You up To or Too?

“What are you up to” is a casual way of asking, “what are you doing.” The expression “what are you up too” is incorrect and not used. Please see the differences in our post: Too vs. To.

“Watcha up To?” Meaning

“Watcha up to” is another way of asking, “what are you up to.” It’s used among friends. This is short for “what are you up to?” and is pronounced like “wat-cha.”

Here’s an example of how you might use the expression in a conversation:

  • Person A: Hey, watcha up to?
  • Person B: Just about to finish up at work. You?
  • Person A: I’m just hanging out at home. Nothing much.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to respond to “what are you up to.” It all depends on what you’re doing and how you feel. So next time someone asks you, “what are you up to,” don’t be afraid to tell them your plans.

Have you ever been asked, “what are you up to?” How did you respond? Let us know in the comments below!

Language Pack

6-Day English Challenge

Sign up for my free 6-day challenge + English vocabulary planner to improve your English skills. Practice for just 10 minutes per day and see the results! Sign up here.

One-on-One and Group Classes (Free Trial!)

Language lessons and targeted rapid learning at Lingoda to improve confidence. Classes are available 24/7 in English, Business English, German, French, and Spanish. Get a 7-day trial here.


Learn how to write the letters of the alphabet and common English words with my printables available here. Improve early reading scores by 74% with the early learning program Homer.

Most Common Words in English

Did you know 3000 words in English make up about 95% of everyday conversation? Learn the 2000 most common words in English completely FREE when you sign up for English Class 101— no credit card required! Also, check out their monthly free gifts selection.

English Language Learning Videos

Study and learn English independently and at your own pace with the successful Building Your English Brain and English Vocabulary Launch: Upgrade your Speaking (intermediate).

Useful Links

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.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments