Is there a difference between starting a question with "How about" and "What about"? Can we use both expressions interchangeably?
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I think they can be used interchangeably, there is a lot of overlap between the two, but I would usually use
What about can also express an objection, whereas how about does not.
From what I´ve learned teaching English, and what I´ve seen in most books, the difference is that we use WHAT ABOUT + noun, and HOW ABOUT + verb. It´s a pretty simple explanation, but that´s how it´s being taught in schools in Brazil.
This is a very good way to describe it. Here are some examples:
Andy: "I'm bored. There's nothing to do." Danny: "How about we go see a movie?"
Andy: "I'm bored. Let's go see a movie." Danny: "What about our exams tomorrow?"
In the first example, Danny expands the possibilities: Andy thought there was nothing to do, but Danny reminded him that they could see a movie.
In the second example, Danny limited the possibilities: Andy wanted to see a movie, but Danny reminded him that they had to study for their exams.
On a side note, "what about" cannot take a sentence. "What about we see a movie?" is wrong. You can say, however "What about seeing a movie?" or "What about a movie?"
I think how about is used when suggesting an idea, which could be answered or not, whereas what about requires answering, but I'm not very sure..
protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 4:16
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