ESL Grammar – The Difference Between How About And What About

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how about or what about

A conversation hardly ever goes without these phrases: “How About?” and “What About?”.
Are they interchangeable or is there a difference in the use of these phrases? Let’s figure it out.

“How about?”

We use this phrase when we want to suggest an action or to open different possibilities.
Example: How about a vacation to Sydney?
Example: How about applying for that job at the office?

“What about?”

We use this phrase when we want to name an object or a possible problem.
Example: — “Let’s spend the weekend in town!”
— “But what about my guitar lesson on Saturday?”
Example: What about your dog?

There are cases when these phrases are interchangeable. Let’s see:
Example: — “How have you been?”
— “Nice. How about you?”
Example: — “Where do you work?”
— “At the bank. What about you?”

In this case both pharses are used to ask the same question back to the other person.

The formation of the phrases “How about” and “What about” is different:
How about:
1) How about + -ing form (gerund) – “How about spending …?”
2) How about + pronoun + infinitive – “How about we clean …?”
What about:
What about + noun – “What about my guitar lesson?”

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