How About vs. What About: Key differences and examples

"How about" vs. "What about"

The Difference between “wow about” and “what about” in English

In English, the phrases “how about” and “what about” are often used to make suggestions, ask questions, express concerns, and more. However, they are frequently confused with each other. If we simplify their usage, it can be understood as follows:

“How about?” is used to suggest an action (a proposal or alternative) or to open up new possibilities.  For example:

  • How about we try a new restaurant this weekend?
  • How about going to the cinema tonight?

“What about?” is used to raise questions, point out potential problems, concerns, or ask about the status of something or someone.  For example:

  • What about the budget? Can we afford a new restaurant?
  • What about your homework? Have you done it?
  • We’re going to the beach on Sunday. What about the weather?

Let’s delve deeper into their differences and how to use them correctly.

Using “how about”


“How about” is most commonly used to propose ideas or actions. It is usually an informal way to suggest something. For example:

  • “How about going to the movies tonight?”
  • “How about we order pizza for dinner?”

In these cases, “how about” helps to make a suggestion in a friendly and informal manner. The use of this phrase often implies that you want to discuss a possible action or activity and are awaiting a response or agreement from the other person.

Asking for opinions

“How about” is also used to ask for someone’s opinion on a particular matter or situation:

  • “How about the new project? Do you think it will be successful?”
  • “How about our plan to visit Paris? Do you still want to go?”

These examples show how you can use “how about” to get feedback or an assessment of an idea. It allows you to inquire about someone else’s opinion to make a decision or adjust plans.

Offering alternatives

When you want to suggest an alternative, “how about” is also appropriate:

  • “We could go hiking, or how about visiting the museum instead?”

In this context, “how about” is used to propose another option or idea that might be more appealing or convenient for the other person.

Using “what about”

Asking about a condition or situation

“What about” is often used to inquire about the condition or situation of something or someone. This could be a question about the presence of something or the state of affairs:

  • “What about your sister? How is she doing?”
  • “What about the project deadline? Has it been extended?”

In these examples, “what about” is used to obtain information or clarify the status of certain matters or individuals. It’s a question about what is happening with a specific topic or situation.

Raising concerns or objections

If you have doubts or want to draw attention to potential problems, use “what about”:

  • “What about the budget? Do we have enough funds?”
  • “What about the weather? Is it safe to travel?”

“What about” in these cases helps to highlight potential difficulties or risks that might arise. It’s a useful way to discuss and address possible issues.

Bringing up an overlooked subject

“What about” is also used when you want to remind or point out something that has been overlooked in a conversation:

  • “We discussed the schedule, but what about the location?”
  • “You mentioned the meeting, but what about the agenda?”

In this context, “what about” is used to introduce a new topic or question that has not been discussed before or has been omitted.

Comparison examples for using “How about” and “What about”


  • “How about we go for a walk?” – A suggestion to go for a walk.
  • “What about a walk?” – A suggestion to discuss or find out if a walk has been planned.
  • “I’m free this weekend. How about you?” – A question asking if the other person is available like you.

Asking about the state

  • “How about your presentation?” – A question about impressions or success.
  • “What about your presentation?” – A question asking if everything is okay with it or if it has been considered.
  • “I’m worried about the budget. What about you?” – A question to see if the other person shares your concern about the budget.

Tips for usage

  • Use “how about” when inquiring about a state similar to yours or proposing new ideas or actions.
  • Use “what about” when asking about attitudes or concerns regarding a specific topic or issue, or when bringing up a forgotten or underestimated topic.

These guidelines will help you better understand and use the phrases “how about” and “what about” in everyday communication. They will make your English communication more expressive and effective.

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