Difference Between How About and What About

Key Difference – How About vs What About
 

How about and what about are two informal question formats we use in everyday life. Even though they have overlapping uses, there are some unique contexts, where they cannot be used interchangeably. The key difference between how about and what about is that how about is used with suggestions whereas what about is used with potential problems.

When to Use How About?

How about can be used to suggest an action or to open possibilities. This form is often followed by the present participle form of a verb or by a pronoun and an infinitive. It is sometimes also followed by a noun or noun phrase.

You can use this format

-to suggest someone something

I’m free this evening. How about going out? (Let’s go out) 

                                                                   ↓

                                                 (present participle)

How about we go for a movie? (Let’s go for a movie) 

                           ↓

   (pronoun and infinitive)

How about a game of chess? (Let’s play chess)

                                  ↓

                       (noun phrase)

-to ask someone to give you something

Oh, you got some extra money? How about giving me a loan? (Can you give me a loan?)

- to ask someone if they are willing to  do something

How about buying me a drink? (Will you buy me a drink?)

How about a glass of wine?

How about a glass of wine?

When to Use What About?

What about is usually used to refer to a potential problem or an object. To be more specific, it is used to ask what should be done about something. The expression what about is usually followed by a noun or a noun phrase.

Let’s go on a trip!

But, what about my dance classes?

 

Burn all her clothes.

What about her jewelry?

 

I’ll be safe, but what about all the other people who don’t have money?

Key Difference - How About vs What About

A: Throw away the broken glass
B: But, what about the mess?

Interchangeability of How about and What about

How about and What about can be used interchangeably in the following contexts:

- to ask someone to respond to what you just said:

I work at the local hospital. What about you?

I work at the local hospital. How about you?

 

I like this movie. What about you?

I like this movie. How about you?

 

- to ask whether something/ someone is included:

Jeanne, Rex, Leo, and Anna are going. What about Nate?

Jeanne, Rex, Leo, and Anna are going. How about Nate?

What is the difference between How About and What About?

Use:

How About suggests an action or opens possibilities.

What About refers to an object or implies potential problems.

Formation:

How About is followed by a present participle verb or a pronoun and an infinitive

What About is followed by a noun or a noun phrase.

Image Courtesy:
“Glass of wine” by Klaus Post (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
“1518063” (Public Domain) via Pixbay