"Comment ça va ?"
Translation:How are you doing?
Yes, you're right, this way is more formal (and maybe more proper) than "Comment ça va?"
Comment ça va? === as, "ça" is an impersonal, and is none in particular, you can use it for a group, or only one person, it doesn't matter, but it's the informal way.
Comment allez-vous?/ Comment vas-tu? ==== as, "vous", "tu" are pronouns, you have to agree it to the person you are talking to.
PERCE_NEIGE, would you pronounce "liaison" in "commenT allez-vous ?" or not? On about.com it is suggested that this is "forbidden liaison", but I think I've seen on some Youtube French lectures that it should be pronounced. (http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons-f.htm is link for "forbidden liaisons" on about.com)
Yes, I'm sure "About" is wrong here, this liaison is necessary. it has to be said: "komentalévou". Though, they're right, the liaison in "Comment est-il" is forbidden. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s672tVfo-kI
This website contents the official national program for French as a foreign language, (FLE) I trust them more than "About" on this matter, and in my opinion the explanations are easier to understand: http://www.lepointdufle.net/ressources_fle/liaisons_obligatoires_liaisons_interdites.htm#.U2yDtUBP7Cw
They explain here, "Comment-allez vous" is an exception... So About is not so wrong about this case, they simply forgot to give this exception, but in some cases, the rules given by About and by Le Point du FLE are contradictory. (for instance: "Elle écrit une lettre à Lili")
That is the informal way of saying it. It's something you'd say to your friends, but probably not your boss. Not always, but often times students are taught the formal way to say things first and through exposure to the culture and practice pick up both the informal phrases, and local slang or dialects depending on their exposure to different parts of the culture.
If there is a question mark at the end than it means "how are you?" If it is a statement then it means "I'm fine". In voice exercises if the intonation goes up at the end than it is the question. If the intonation stays same or goes down at the end then it is the statement. Hope this helped!
That would be a possible reply, meaning, "It's going well." It is not a question.
The intonation in the supplied spoken translation (male voice) falls at the end, instead of rising as would be more common in English. Is this expected and typical in French? This could also be a gender difference - I have previously noted differences between male and female French speakers in the intonation they use for greetings, e.g. "bon jour", with women often intoning bon jour as "uP Down" in a friendly sounding way, as if to cheer you up to have a nice day with a smile, and men often intoning bon jour with a flatter intonation that is less "up" on the bon and more assertive-sounding on the 'jour', as if to say "I'm busy and important, but have a nice day anyway".
In the UK you would use this phrase when something had changed. Out of hospital, marriage breakdown, starting a new business, etc. "Hi/hello, how are you( /are you okay)? is a sort of standard greeting. If it is formal, "Hello, pleased to meet you", will serve you well. You can always upgrade to "Hello, delighted to meet you".