The difference between How about...? and What about ...?

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younghon

Senior Member
Korean - Korea


Hello, I got a question.

How about ...? and What about ...? :

Michael Swan insisted that both can be used without distinction. But Many people say that sometimes there exists

difference by menaing. Which one is right?

Would you explain it to me clearly?

I have been spending a lot of time on investigating this.


Thanks in advance.




 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It is quite impossible to demonstrate how How about ...? and What about ...? are used without writing three or four pages: sometimes they are interchangeable, sometimes they are not.

    Usually, How about ...? is used to construct a suggestion and is followed by a verbal -> How about going to the football match?
    and
    What about ...?
    is used to create an open question and is followed by a nominal/noun/noun phrase -> A: "You and John wash the dishes, and I will dry them." - B: "What about Mary? What is she going to do?"

    However, there are many other contexts in which things might change and this is simply guidance.
     

    Kirill V.

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Very interesting, thank you. If I may ask - does this sound Okay, for example:

    - Let's invite Jane and Sally.
    - And how about Mary?
    - Well, I don't feel like inviting her, frankly.


    Or should it be "what about Mary"? The reason I think how could work in this context is that the question implied is "how do you feel about it". But I may be wrong.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    - Let's invite Jane and Sally.
    - And how about Mary?
    - Well, I don't feel like inviting her, frankly.


    Or should it be "what about Mary"? The reason I think how could work in this context is that the question implied is "how do you feel about it". But I may be wrong.
    That seems OK. I agree with your reasoning.

    However, do look at my signature at the bottom of the post: it is applicable in this How about ...? and What about ...? discussion.
     
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