How

'How' is mainly known as an interrogative adverb to find out the way an action happens. But there is more to learn about this word. Click here to learn!

How to Use "How" in the English Grammar

How is one of the commonly-used words in English. We will learn three functions of how.

Functions of 'How'

Now, look at each function in detail:

1. 'How' as an Interrogative Adverb

Use

How as an interrogative adverb is used to ask questions about the way an action occurs. It also asks about the condition or quality, or the extent/degree of something. Now take a look at the functions of how with some examples:

  • How asks about the way something happens. Like:

A : This machine works by pressing the handle.

B : How does this machine work?

  • How is used to ask about a condition or quality. Such as:

A : This book was so fun.

B : How was the book?

  • How is used to ask about the extent/degree of something. In this case, how is followed by some adverbs or adjectives like 'old, much, many, often, etc.' Look:

How old are you?

How much is it?

Position in a Sentence

How is used at the beginning of the clause, the reason why inversion is required.
How an inversion is made?

  1. The interrogative adverb comes at the beginning of a clause.
  2. The clause of manner is removed.
  3. The subject and the verb are inverted.

Tip

1. In questions, the subject 'I' and 'we' are replaced with 'you.'
2. A semi-auxiliary or an auxiliary verb is needed for interrogation if there is a main verb in a sentence. Here is an example:

How did you go there?

'How' comes at the beginning of the clause and the main verb 'go' needs the auxiliary verb 'did.'

'How' as an Exclamation

1. How as an interrogative adverb is used either alone to show emotions like surprise or anger. For example:

A : I went to Siberia.

B : How?

2. How as an interrogative adverb is used before an adjective to show surprise and emotion. Like:

How beautiful you are!

How beautiful!

2. 'How' as a Conjunction of Manner

Use

How as a conjunction of manner heads the clause that plays the role of an adverb for the verb in the independent clause. In other words, it makes an adverb clause. For example:

Live your life how you want.

'How you want' is the adverb of 'live.'

Position in a Sentence

How as a conjunction of manner always comes at the beginning of the adverbial clause. An adverbial clause always follows the independent clause. For example:

Live your life how you want.

'How you want' is introduced by 'how.'

3. 'How' as a Nominal Relative Pronoun

Use

How as a nominal relative pronoun heads a nominal relative clause that plays the role of an object or a subject for the main clause. For example:

How it works doesn’t matter.

'How it works' is the subject.

Position in a Sentence

How as a relative pronoun always comes at the beginning of the relative clause. Here are two different forms of relative clauses with some examples:

  • How can precede a sentence; for example:

How it works doesn’t matter.

I do not know how to go.

'How to go' is the object of 'know.'

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