"What about you" <vs> "how about you"

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panzerfaust0

Senior Member
mandarin
Hello. I am always confused about these two very similar-looking and sounding phrases, "what about you" and "how about you". Are they the same? Are they inter-changeable in most cases? When should I use one but not the other?

Context: "My favorite types of food? Let's see, I like Thai, French, Italian, and Japanese cuisines. How about you?"

Context 2: "My favorite types of food? Let's see, I like Thai, French, Italian, and Japanese cuisines. What about you?"

Thanks.
 
  • Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    I agree with Dale Texas that the two sound interchangeable, at least in this example.
     

    panzerfaust0

    Senior Member
    mandarin
    So...they are inter-changeable in ALL cases? Or is there any situation you can think of in which they are not the same?

    Thanks.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Neither question is an ideal formulation after the introductory sentences, panzerfaust. "What are your favorite types of food?" would fit the other words better.

    Nonetheless, people do use "What/how about you?" in exactly the way you've suggested in that example. Like Dale and Hildy, I think both "what" and "how" sound completely normal in that question. At the moment, I can't think of any situation in which "what" or "how" would be the only word that somebody could use as the first word in that question. In every situation I can think of, either word would sound normal.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    "What about you!?" can be used very aggressively or angrily but that's a different case. It pretty much states, "Who cares about you!?" But "How about you!?" wouldn't mean the same thing, in my opinion. A lot of it has to do with habit.

    Husband to wife: "Who's going to clean up this mess?"
    Wife to husband: "How about you!?" :tick:

    "What about you!? would work almost as well to my ear. If you're being friendly I'd prefer "How about you?" These are minor differences, though.
     
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