Language Tip 36 (2014-15)

How vs. what…like

These two expressions are sometimes interchangeable and sometimes not:
How are you?
What is she like?
The media tell us what the perfect body looks like. / The media tell us how the perfect body looks.

It is important to note that even in contexts that allow both expressions they cannot be combined. More directly: it is embarrassing when advanced speakers of English say “I know how the perfect summer looks like.”

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

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