“How about” vs. “What about”: What’s the Difference

How about vs. What about

Have you ever been confused about when to use “how about” and “what about” in a conversation? Don’t worry; it’s quite common! These phrases sound similar but can be used differently. Let’s break them down in a very simple way.

How about

Think of “how about” as a friendly suggestion or idea. You can use it when you want to propose something new or ask for someone’s opinion about a plan or idea. It’s like saying, “Hey, I have this idea. What do you think?”

  • Suggesting an activity: “How about we go to the park?” Here, you’re suggesting going to the park and asking what the other person thinks of this idea.
  • Offering food or drink: “How about some tea?” This means you’re suggesting having some tea and wondering if the other person agrees.
  • Giving an option or solution: “How about taking the bus instead?” In this case, you’re suggesting an alternative way to travel and asking for the other person’s opinion.

What about

Now, “what about” is a bit different. It’s used to bring up a new topic or to ask about something that hasn’t been considered yet. It’s like saying, “Wait a minute, have we thought about this?”

  • Considering a factor or detail: “What about the weather?” Here, you’re reminding or asking about the weather as an important detail that should be considered.
  • Asking about a person: “What about Sara? Is she coming?” This means you’re asking for information or status regarding Sara in the context of the conversation.
  • Requesting additional information: “We’re going hiking. What about gear?” In this case, you’re asking what should be considered or done about hiking gear.

When to Use Them

To decide whether to use “How about” or “What about”, think about what you want to say:

  • Use “How about” when you want to suggest something or ask for an opinion about your suggestion. It’s like offering an idea to see if others agree.

Example: “How about we watch a movie tonight?”

  • Use “What about” when you want to introduce a new topic or ask about something that hasn’t been considered yet. It’s helpful for reminding others about things they might have missed.

Example: “We’ve decided on the movie, but what about the snacks?”

Key Differences in Usage

While both phrases can be used in questions and suggest a form of inquiry, their focus is different:

  • “How about” is more about suggesting something new and seeking an opinion or agreement.
  • “What about” is more about ensuring something is considered or asking for more details on a specific aspect.

Examples in Sentences

To make things clearer, let’s see both phrases in action:

“How about” Examples

  • How about we start with a warm-up exercise?
  • How about a potluck for the next team gathering?
  • How about we allocate tasks based on expertise?
  • How about ordering Thai food tonight?
  • How about we take a different route to avoid traffic?
  • How about trying yoga to relieve stress?
  • How about a theme for the party? Maybe the ’80s?
  • How about we set a weekly meeting to discuss progress?
  • How about using a shared calendar for our events?
  • How about we compile a list of FAQs for new members?

“What about” Examples

  • What about the cost? Have we budgeted enough?
  • What about parking space at the venue?
  • What about the materials needed for the workshop?
  • What about the people who haven’t RSVP’d yet?
  • What about connectivity issues for our virtual attendees?
  • What about the feedback from last year’s event? Did we address it?
  • What about the deadline? Are we on track?
  • What about the noise level? Will it disrupt nearby activities?
  • What about allergies? Should we avoid nuts in the menu?
  • What about safety protocols? Are they in place?

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