2 extremely useful conversational phrases with ‘how’ that you never noticed English speakers say..

Here is my guide to my two favourite English phrases with ‘how’, which you may have missed when listening to English speakers..

How come

How come is usually used in spoken English, and it is a really useful phrase meaning the same as why..?

I prefer using this to why in some situations.  The problem with ‘why’ is that it can sometimes sound negative, for example take a look at this sentence:

‘Why did you move to Spain?’

The sentence can sound like you cannot understand why someone would want to move to Spain.  This isn’t always the case, but depending on how you ask the question, it can almost sound like you are criticising someone for moving to Spain.

The best way to avoid this in informal spoken English to just use ‘how come..’, followed by the word order for a normal sentence.. 

‘How come you moved to Spain?’

This is the form I usually use informally, to ask people about why they made personal choices in life.  Here are some other situations where I would use how come in order to avoid sounding critical:

‘How come you decided to move house?’

‘How come you decided to stop taking piano lessons?’

You can also use ‘how come’ on its own, with the same meaning…

‘I decided to quit my job.’

‘How come?’

Again, using why is perfectly OK but it can sometimes sound like you are going to criticise someone for their decision.  How come is more a question asking how you came to that situation.

How come is also used as a way to ask  how did it happen?’  Again, this is a better alternative in informal conversation to how or why..

‘How come you got fired from your job?’

‘How come you have a hangover this morning?’

Again, why in these situations above can sometimes sound like you are going to criticise someone for losing their job, or having a hangover.  How is OK, but again, it can sound critical of how someone got into a certain negative situation.

How about

This phrase is used for making suggestions:

‘What do you guys want to do tonight?’

‘How about going to the cinema?’

How about is usually followed by the -ing form, and it is a very easy way to make suggestions.

Another good word we use to make suggestions is shall:

‘Shall we go to the cinema?’

If you would like to have any of these words explained further, or if you would like to see some more examples, feel free to email me at [email protected], or message me on Skype at live:fluencyspace! Also if you have any other questions about English I’m happy to answer your emails or I will write a post about it, keep the emails coming!


 David Cox

 Fluency Space

 Make the world your fluency space. Business English for career and life success

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