Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

From time to time I hear sentences like this:

You know how we have pizza on Thursdays, right?

Here, how doesn't mean exactly how those guys eat pizza, it is something like "that" in this context.

So what is the difference between using how, that or just skipping the conjunction?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think, fundamentally, the underlying meaning is the same. The difference is in the emphasis and softening a rebuke in this example, perhaps.

“You know that we have pizza on Thursdays, right?” - is almost a rebuke (without context it sounds that way at least). It is the fact that is significant here - a point is being addressed.

“You know how we have pizza on Thursdays, right?” sounds more like either an excuse is coming or a change of plan. ‘That’ could also signify the change of plan, but it is then more formal/significant.

Whereas dropping the conjunction, “You know we have pizza on Thursdays, right?” sounds more like a mild rebuke, or perhaps a memory jog.

To me, without context, this is what I hear...

“You know that we have pizza on Thursdays, right? Well, in comes Bob with Chinese takeaway. On a Thursday!”

“You know how we have pizza on Thursdays, right? Well, for a change I thought we’d try that new Italian rather than The Hut”

“Your mum is coming on Thursday? You know we have pizza on Thursdays, right?”

share|improve this answer
2  
"You know how we have ..." is often used as a context indicator, to indicate that what follows should be understand in connection with the thing you're reminding them of. (You don't question whether they know it, you just want to set the context for what follows.) For example: "You know how we have pizza on Thursdays, right? Maybe we should have tacos on Fridays." Or, "You know how we went to the movie you wanted to see last weekend? Well, I want to see Expendables 2." In these examples, that would put the emphasis in the wrong place. –  David Schwartz Sep 4 '12 at 4:22

I think in here the word how behaves the same usual way.

Here, the word how is (indirectly) asking you if you know about the existence of the phenomenon explained by it.

For example, if someone asks “You know how fast I drive when I’m in a rush, right?", it is not asking you about specifics of the speed, it’s just asking if you know the scenario explained by the sentence.

In other words, our original sentence is asking if you know the fact that the guys have pizza on Thursdays. Only the inner circle members would know.

share|improve this answer
    
And how does it differ from that? –  Idsa Sep 3 '12 at 11:14
3  
"You know how fast I drive?" is not the same as "You know how I drive fast?" –  Roaring Fish Sep 3 '12 at 11:17
    
@Roaring Fish. It can be .. "You know how I drive fast when we leave your mum's house? Well..." –  Wolf5370 Sep 3 '12 at 11:39
    
@Wolf5370: I think that's his point. –  Robusto Sep 3 '12 at 11:51
1  
Sentences ending with "right?" are usually rhetorical. The speaker is more likely to be reminding the listener of a fact, rather than asking if he knows it. –  dj18 Sep 3 '12 at 13:22

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.