Difference Between How and What

How and What are the two most used and required words in the English Language. Without them, the construction of most of the sentences is impossible.

They are mostly used to form sentences. Hence, we can refer to them as two interrogative words.

To form a sentence, they are used at the beginning of a sentence. However, they do have very different meanings.

Both of them add a very specific and distinct value to a sentence. In no way are these two words interrelated.

They are also used as normal words in a sentence.

In this article, we shall aim to learn more about them in detail. Application of How and What in sentences will help us to get more familiar with them.

In return, we can acquire further knowledge which will eventually help us to distinguish between the two.

How vs What

The main difference between How and What is that How is used to find out on what ground a specific incident took place. It is used to know the way or manner in which it occurred. Whereas, What is used to describe a particular incident. It is used to describe the scenario and the details that it contains.

How vs What 1

When we ask How we expect a reason in reply. It is also used to extend something.

The word How can be used in various ways. When put at the beginning of a sentence, the sentence becomes interrogative.

It can also be used to enquire some identity as well as quantity.

On the other hand, when we ask What, we expect a descriptive reply. When we use it with respect to a particular incident, it revolves around the actions and reactions that took place in that situation.

It also involves the scenario. When we use the word at the beginning of the sentence, it becomes interrogative too.

It has a variety of other uses.

Comparison Table Between How and What

Parameters of DifferenceHowWhy
IntroductionIt is the attempt to know the manner in which an incident took place.It is a description of a reason or certain incident.
NatureIt is a process.It is a way of asking.
AimIt demands the manner of a verb.It demands the status of a noun.
UsageIt can be used as an interrogative word and conjunctions. It can be used as an interrogative word only.
ExampleHow did the accident occur?What is the reason for escape?

What is How?

Let us start with an example: “How is this possible?”. In this sentence, we can see, we are talking about some particular action.

When we add How it is questioning its way. To be more specific, it is asking the manner in which the incident occurred.

Although the sentence is very simple, the word How has a lot of contribution and power to it.

When used at the beginning of a sentence, How acts as an interrogative word. Henceforth, an interrogative sentence is being created with the usage of a question mark at the end.

The word How demands knowing the process. It completely focuses on knowing in what order or manner the incident occurred or took place.

That is when we use this particular word.

Moreover, How can also be used as a norm word. Take another example: “This is how you solve the sum.” Here, we notice How is just a word used for supporting an explanation.

What is What?

Once again, starting with an example: “What is the matter?”. The question is very simple.

However, we will particularly focus on the word What to find out its features. Also, we will aim to find out the role, use and power of that particular word in the above sentence.

Clearly, the question demands a description. It demands to know the details.

Detailed information about the matter is necessary. We can conclude from the sentence that a particular incident is the subject.

The word What is added at the beginning of the sentence to make it a question. Thus, we can say that Word is acting as an interrogative word here.

In other words, we can say, What is demanding to know the status of a particular noun in the sentence.

Hence, a descriptive reply is expected. It may also ask for the definition of a certain object.

Again, What can be used in the middle of a sentence, acting as a random word. For example, ” I know what you are talking about.”

Here, it is just a word that is supporting confirmation.

Main Differences Between How and What

  1. The main difference between How and What is that How is the attempt to know the manner in which an incident took place. Whereas, Why is a description of a reason or certain incident.
  2. How demands the manner of a verb. On the other hand, It demands the status of a noun.
  3. The nature of these two words has a very significant point of difference. How demands the manner of a verb. Whereas, What demands the status of a noun.
  4. The word How can be used as an interrogative word and conjunctions. The word What can be used as an interrogative word only.
  5. Last but not the least, examples. Following are the examples of How and What respectively. (i) How did the accident occur? (ii) What is the reason for escape?
Difference Between How and What 1

Conclusion

In the English Language, How and What are used to create various kinds of sentences. It can be used as adverbs and conjunctions too.

Also, they are used to create idioms. However, they are mainly prioritized as interrogative words.

Thus, they do have a common questioning nature. When used at the beginning, the sentence itself demands a reply.

However, the meaning of these two words is completely different from each other. It is very obvious that no two words in English can be so similar.

They are neither synonyms nor are they related to each other. Hence, they can also not be used as a substitute for one another.

The only common ground they share is the interrogative nature.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01675.x
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/smj.4250090404
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