What is the Difference Between What and How?

In most cases, a question is asked to learn more about or get a response to something. In the English language, two such questions that can be used in a variety of contexts are what and how. They vary, however, in “how” they have applied and the kinds of solutions they are looking for.

What and how are interrogation words used while examining or questioning anything? When terms like “how” or “what” are used in a sentence, it is a question.

The difference between what and how is that “how” is used to understand how something occurred, whereas “what” is used to learn more about something or to understand how something is described.

Let’s learn the definitions and basic difference between what and how below:

Definition of How?

Definition Of How

When we seek to understand the method, technique, or procedure by which an event is occurring, has occurred, or something has come into being, we ask “how.”

“How” can also be used as an adverb, noun, or conjunction in a variety of contexts. 

For instance: How are you doing these days? And other variations are examples of how to use the word.

A person is inquiring about another person’s health when they ask this question. “How” did he become hurt? It demonstrates how severe the injury was.


  1. How many good buddies do you have?
  2. How long does the journey to the station take?
  3. How would you say that in Italian?
  4. How did you think of this crazy concept?
  5. How many sandwiches are left?
  6. How long will these mental tricks last?

Usage of How

Usage Of How

As an Interrogative Adverb

“How” is used as an interrogative adverb to inquire about the manner in which an action takes place. Additionally, its inquiries about the kind, degree, or extent of something.

Now let’s look at how it works with several examples:

  1. How does this device operate?
  2. How did you find the book?
  3. How did you escape from the event?
  4. How can you tell a lie?
  5. How much electricity did you use?

As an Exclamation

“How” is also used either alone to indicate emotions like surprise or anger, and “How” is also used in front of an adjective to express surprise and passion.


  1. How gorgeous you are!
  2. How gorgeous!
  3. How slow she walks!
  4. How well she listens!
  5. How fast they run!

As a Conjunction

“How,” acting as a conjunction of manner, introduces the sentence that serves as the independent clause’s adverb for the verb. To put it another way, it creates an adverb clause.


  1. Live your life how you desire to live.
  2. Cut his hair short if that’s how he wants it.

Read more: What is the Difference Between How and Why?

Definition of What?

Definition Of What

When seeking details about objects and events, we can utilize “what” to ask.

“What” may also be used as a pronoun, a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. It indicates the true nature of something and is used before a noun.

When asked about a product’s pricing, they will typically answer. What is the cost of this dress? The word can be used to learn details about a product or a person.


  1. What exactly is an earthquake?
  2. What time will we depart tomorrow?
  3. What was the intended meaning of that?
  4. What else was there for him to do but to continue losing sleep?
  5. What exactly were you hoping I’d say?
  6. What did he have in mind?

Usage of What

Usage Of What

As a Pronoun

As a pronoun, it is used to denote details about a source or a person. For instance, what is his name? What species are those?

As a Determiner

“What” can be used in exclamations to convey a strong emotion or viewpoint. When a noun or a/an (Plus adjective) + noun is present, we use what as a determiner:

  1. What beautiful blooms!
  2. What a terrible odor!
  3. What a disaster!
  4. What a beautiful girl!
  5. What a hectic day!

As a Question Word

What we can use to inquire about things and activities is:

  1. What would you like?
  2. What are you eating?

Difference Between What and How

The basic difference between what and how are given below:

The primary difference between what and how is “what” could be an action, something, or someone. 


  • What is your name?
  • What are you performing?

On the other hand, “How” describes a procedure or approach. How did you, for instance, break that? How do you feel?

Another comparison between what vs. how is that “how” provides an answer to questions like, how? or in what manner? In contrast, “what” responds to queries concerning the nature of a person, object, or source. Sometimes it provides an answer to a certain query regarding a certain topic.

What Vs. How

The comparison between what vs. how is given below:

How and what are interrogative terms that can be used to answer various questions.

In comparison between what vs. how, “how” is used to convey concern in a sentence. While “what” is used to show genuine nature, respectively, in the form of a noun.

“How” indicates the degree and “what” indicates purpose when used as an adverb.

What is the Difference Between What and How?

Highlighting the main difference between what and how in the following table:

NounIt can be used as a noun to express concern by asking questions such as, “How did you know you adored him?”We can use it to explain something’s genuine essence. For instance, what is the modern education sector doing?
AdverbTo understand the purpose, for instance: What did Josef do last night?To identify the level, for instance: How hurt is she?
OtherIt means to support or add to anything else. For instance: what should he do or should he play?To determine the quantity, price, etc. For example: For how many days is she going to the USA?


What and how are both interrogative terms that have different forms depending on the context. They have multiple uses, including nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, and conjunctions.

The two words can also be used in the form of an idiom. The difference between what and how is that “what” seeks information regarding a description of something or an action. “How”, on the other hand, inquires as to the way or condition of something.

Learn more: What is the Difference Between And and Or?

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