How goes it?

A: Hey.
B: Hey.
A: How goes it?
B: Tricky, for sure.

Question: I don’t know why this question structure is like that. Does it mean “how did it go”?

Thank you!!!

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It’s familiar slang for “How are you?” or “How is what you’re working on going?”

“How are you?” is a formulaic courtesy that may not necessarily be used to solicit an honest response but merely a perfunctory, “Fine.”

If you really want to know how a friend is doing, you might use this phrase. More precisely, if your friend or peer co-worker is working on a project or similar effort or ambition which might have some emotional ups and downs in the steps of its completion, you might use this phrase.

This phrase is a great one to illustrate that while English generally does not have central consideration of social hierarchy in its formal language like the languages of East Asia, English does pay small but significant attention to hierarchy in its slang. This is a phrase that wouldn’t be used to a parent or elder relative. It would likewise be disrespectful in many workplace situations toward superiors as well.

Any slang that uses technically incorrect grammar like this would likewise likely be offensive to superiors in many contexts. In English, generally there isn’t separate vocabulary for expressing deference to superiors. Instead, you need to use correct grammar to show respect.


In Germany we use a number of such literal translations of various expressions for fun - while we know very well that those are not proper English. For example:
I think I spider (German: spider → lit: spinnen → means: go crazy)
You are on the woodway (German: woodway → Holzweg → means wrong path)

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