What vs. How

Since what and how are considered relative pronouns and interrogative words; there are many important points to know about them.

"What" vs. "How" in the English Grammar

What Are their Main Differences?

The main difference between 'what' and 'how' relies on what they are asking for. 'What' asks for information about the description of something or an action. Whereas 'how' asks for the manner in which something happens or the state someone is in.


How They Differ in Their Grammatical Functions

  • 'What':

is considered an interrogative pronoun or determiner to ask questions.

What season is you favorite? → determiner

  • 'How':

is considered an adverb to ask questions.

How was your grandmother? → pronoun

How They Differ in Their Meanings

  • 'What' and 'how':

are used a lot in English. We use them to ask various questions about different things. The only thing which matters to know is that 'what' behaves as a questioner for the actions or things, while how asks for the state or the manner of something, someone, or how they are done.

What is your sister doing?

How is the pasta?

To Ask about Appearance, General Conditions, and Inner Characteristics

"What is .... like?" is used to ask about the appearance or characteristic of someone, though "How is ...?" is used to ask about the general condition or state of things or people.

What is your grandmother like?

The answer to this question would be: " She is kind, friendly, and she has beautiful blue eyes."

What is the weather like?

The suitable answer to this question can be: " It is rainy and cold."

How is his sister?

The answer to this question can be: " She is better and released from hospital."

What Is an Exclamative Clause, or Phrase

  • 'Exclamations':

are used in English to show that you are shocked, surprised, or to indicate deep strong emotions. As a result, we have an exclamative clause or phrase. Note that usually there is an exclamation mark at the end of these kinds of clauses and phrases.

What a liar you are!

How cute he is!



How and What as Exclamations

  • 'Exclamatives':

are usually formed by using 'what' and 'how'. They Are both used to show surprise or shock. There is a delicate difference between their structures. So, let us take a look at the table.

Exclamative with 'what' what + a noun phrase + verb
Exclamative with 'how' How + adjective
Exclamative with 'how' in informal language How + adjective + verb + subject

What a wonderful sky!

How wonderful!

What a beautiful bride she made!

How proud it is to be your mother!

How clever she is!


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