“How about?” vs. “What about?” – Learn the difference

“What about…?” and “How about…?” are very similar, but there is a slight difference. Let’s see some examples of how about vs. what about so we can understand when to use them.

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Use “How about?” to suggest an action and to “open” possibilities:

“I’ve got the day off from work tomorrow. What should we do?”
How about spending the day in the city?”
“Nah. I don’t really feel like traveling.”
How about we clean the house?”
“No way. I want to do something fun.”
“OK. How about doing some shopping and then seeing a movie?”
“Hmm… that sounds good!”

In this conversation, “How about…?” is used to suggest various possibilities of actions.

“How about…” can be followed by the -ing form of the verb OR by a pronoun and infinitive (“How about we clean…”)

Use “What about?” to mention an objection or a potential problem:

“Let’s spend the weekend in the city!”
“But what about my guitar lesson on Saturday?”
“That’s no problem, just talk with the teacher and reschedule it.”
“And what about the English test on Monday? I haven’t studied yet.”
“You can study on Sunday night when we get back.”

In this conversation, “What about…” is used to express a negative point or a potential problem with the plan or idea. After “What about…” there is a noun (“my guitar lesson” and “the English test”)

Should we say “How about you?” or “What about you?”

Both “how about you?” and “what about you?” are correct!

They are common ways to ask the same question back to the other person.

There’s no difference between “how about you?” and “what about you?”

“How have you been?”
“Good – a little busy with school. How about you?” (= and how have you been?)

“Where do you work?”
“At the local university. What about you?” (= and where do you work?”)

Now you know when to use how about vs. what about, and you understand that “how about you?” and “what about you?” are the same. I hope you’ll use these phrases in your next English conversation!

Clear up your doubts about confusing words… and use English more confidently!

600+ Confusing English Words Explained

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