Definition of “how” - English Dictionary

“how” in British English

See all translations

howadverb

uk /haʊ/ us /haʊ/

A2 in what way, or by what methods:

How do we get to the town from here?
How did you hear about the concert?
How does this machine work?
How do you plan to spend your holiday?
Roz doesn't know how to ride a bicycle.
It all depends on how you look at it.
I don't care about fashion, I dress how I please.
I was horrified to hear about how (= the way) she had been treated.
How can/could he be so stupid?
I don't know how anyone could think that way.

A2 used to ask about someone's physical or emotional state:

How is your mother?
How are you feeling this morning?

A1 used in questions that ask what an experience or event was like:

How was your flight?
How did you find the lecture? (= did you think it was good)?
How did you like the concert (= did you enjoy it)?
She didn't say how far it is (= what the distance is) to her house.
How long are you going to be (= what amount of time are you going to spend) in the bathroom?
Do you know how many (= what number of) people are coming?
How much does this cost (= what is its price)?
How old is his daughter (= what age is she)?
"Can you lift this case?" "It depends on how heavy it is."
Do you remember how (= the fact that) we used to see every new film as soon as it came out?

B1 used for emphasis:

I can't tell you how pleased I am (= I am very pleased) that you came.
How (= it is very) nice to see you!
"She paid for everything." "How (= that was very) generous."
how strange, stupid, weird, etc. is that? C2 informal

used to emphasize that something is strange, stupid, etc.

how are you?

A1 used to ask someone if they are well and happy:

"Hi, Lucy, how are you?" "Fine, thanks, how are you?"
how are things? also how's everything?, also how's it going? informal

used as greetings

how do you mean?

used when you want someone to explain what they have just said:

"I think we need to reconsider our position." "How do you mean?"
how's that?

used when asking if something you have done for someone is satisfactory:

Let me put a cushion behind your back. How's that?
and how! informal

used to show that you feel the same way as someone:

"I'll be so glad when this project is finished." "And how!"

More examples

  • Your house is always so neat - how do you manage it with three children?
  • She used to lie awake at night worrying about how to pay the bills.
  • "Well, " he began, "I don't quite know how to tell you this."
  • Notes on how to use this dictionary can be found at the beginning of the book.
  • We do not know exactly how life first began.

(Definition of “how” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“how” in American English

See all translations

howadverb [ not gradable ]

us /hɑʊ/

in what way or state, to what amount or degree, or for what reason:

How do we get to the interstate highway from here?
How did you hear about the concert?
How is your mother?
How did you like the movie?
How much does this cost?
How old is his daughter?
She didn’t say how far it is to her house.
How long are you going to be at the gym?

How is sometimes used for emphasis:

How nice to see you!
How are you?

How are you? is used as a greeting:

"Hi, how are you?" "Fine, thanks, how are you?"
How are things? also How’s everything?, How’s it going?

How are things?,How’s everything?, and How’s it going? are informal greetings:

Hi Deb! How's it going?
How do you do?

How do you do? is a formal greeting:

"I’m Jack Stewart." "How do you do, I’m Angela Black."

howconjunction

us /hɑʊ/

the way or condition in which:

Do you know how this machine works?
[ + to infinitive ] Roz doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle.
I was horrified to hear about how she had been treated.

(Definition of “how” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)