I need help.

Is it correct to answer How do you...? type of questions with You have to...? For example,

Person A: How do you wash your clothes?

Person B: First, you have to separate colored clothes from white clothes.

Literally, Person A asks how Person B washes clothes. Semantically, does How do you in the example above ask for a general way people wash clothes?

  • Idiomatically "how do you" can either ask the person being addressed or. be a more general question about how this can be done, depending on context an intonation. (Is the emphasis on "how do" or "you"?) The latter is sometimes answered as if the question was "how could I...", since that's often what the querant really wants to know. – keshlam May 11 '15 at 1:59
  • I'm not sure answering in the form "You have to..." always works as a reply to questions of the form "How do you..." but it certainly works in the example that you give above. And the question there does seem to be a request for a general way to do the thing that the question focuses on. – Sven Yargs May 11 '15 at 4:49
  • Thanks, for sharing your ideas keshlam and Sven Yargs! That's what I thought too. I was just thinking if there's a hard-fast rule for this concept. :) – phantomthief May 11 '15 at 5:05

It is not incorrect but typically one would respond simply, "Separate colored clothes from whites." Or, "Just separate ..."

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