What’s Up? What Happened? What’s the Matter? What’s Going On?

Raul from Mexico wants to know what the difference is among these phrases:

What happened? / What’s up? / What’s the matter? / What’s going on?

“What’s up?” can be used in two ways. One common way is as an informal greeting to mean “hello” or “how are you?” We use this with friends or people we know well in daily situations.

Jeff: What’s up?
Lucy: Not much. How about you?

We also use “What’s up?” when we ask what the situation is at a specific time. We use “What’s going on?” for the same purpose. For example, if you return home and there are police cars in front of your neighbor’s house, you may ask your husband or wife, “What’s up?” or “What’s going on?” You want to get information about this specific situation.

“What’s the matter?” and “What happened?” are also used to ask for information about a specific situation. However, these two questions are normally used for a situation where something bad or negative has happened or may have happened. For example, when your 6-year-old daughter starts crying, you may ask her, “What’s the matter?” and/or “What happened?” If your co-worker walks into your office with an angry look on her face, you may ask, “What’s the matter?” and/or “What happened?”

You can also use “What happened?” to ask about the result of something.  If you know your co-worker asked your boss for a raise (higher pay or salary) and you see your co-worker the next day, you may ask, “What happened?” to find out the result.

Thanks for the question, Raul, and I hope this is helpful.

~ Lucy

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28 Responses to What’s Up? What Happened? What’s the Matter? What’s Going On?

  1. Ari Fernando Ramos says:

    Very clear explanation Lucy. Thanks

  2. javad says:

    Hi Dr.Lucy
    Thank You very much for your good information about this topic and for everything that you and Jeff have done . it’s great .

    thank you
    javad from iran

  3. emiliano says:

    I like English just because it has these accuracy meanings, and your lesson is, as always, clear and of very easy understanding.
    Thanks very much Lucy, all your fans like me, love you and your scripts so much.

  4. richard says:

    I fully appreciate the blogs that you guys are posting. Thank you so much! It’s been very helpful.

  5. khaleel says:

    well Lucy You’re doing a great job keep it up i find these phrasel verbs quite useful in every day life

  6. Kobe.Su says:

    eazy understand! thank you like always“

  7. Rustam says:

    thanks , just what am looking for . i have knowen the ESLPOD receintly and it is fentestic , thanks Lusy and Jeff

  8. Ugur says:

    This information is very useful. Thanks for your great helps.

  9. ivan says:

    Just to say you Thank you Lucy, as always great job!!

  10. Fred says:

    t h a n k y o u v e r y m u c h

  11. Pete90 says:

    Thank you so much, Lucy! You’re a great teacher!

  12. DINA RAMOS says:

    its very nice of you mrs Lucy that we can just look on the internet and find wherever we need, and this is a big help for someone that jus started like me.

  13. DINA RAMOS says:

    thank you lucy your are a great person.

  14. Rodrigo says:

    As usual very clear explanation, thank you very much….

  15. Elisângelo says:

    HI, ESLPOD time…

    it really was a great explanation about that topic. I’ve been trying get the mainnings of them for a long time by listenning in any conversantion; some of it I simple figured it out, but now… every thing is clear. thanks by being so helpful on your explanations!

  16. denisse says:

    Completely clear. Both of u r great. Thank u very much

  17. Darren says:

    Thanks for your great explanations.

  18. Masakazu Takano says:

    Thank you for your explanation, Lucy.
    I nodded at your comments perhaps for at least 20 times.
    There’re also phrasal verbs in English, which are pretty tough to understand and memorize for English learners.
    But I know there’s no easy way to master phrasal verbs and I’d like you to put them more into your dialogues so that we can tell what they mean and how we can use them, if possible.

  19. Romko Guur says:

    I’ve heard the answers on “What’s up” such as you have mentioned as well as “Nothing much” and “Just chilling”

  20. Koichi says:

    Thank you for the explanation.

    It would be very helpful for me. I’ve sometimes heard that actor or actress says “What’s wrong?” in the movies and so on.
    I would like to know the meaning the diffrences above words.

  21. Yash says:

    Thank you for very accurate information. From so many days, the question was in my mind. Thanks a lot.

  22. Aurione Alves says:

    What’s up Lucy?

    I wanna thank you for your clear explanations. Now all is very clear to me.

  23. Taehoo Kim says:

    Thank you for clear answers. It’s very useful information.

  24. Pouria says:

    Very nice clarification. Thanks a lot.

  25. soraia says:

    Hi dear lucy,
    thanks so much for your clear explanations.wish all teachers could do their teaching as you do.

  26. Karen Rowan says:

    I would also add, “What’s happening?”

    What happened is asking a question about an event that already occurred. “What’s happening?” is used exactly the same way as “What’s going on?”

  27. RAUL says:

    Thank you very much for you anwser, you are the best!!!

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