Can You Start a Sentence With “How”?

It is correct to start sentences with “how” in formal and informal writing. The term “how” can be the start of a question, e.g., “How is your sister?” Also, “how” can be a statement to describe the manner in which something occurs. E.g., “How it happened, we will never know.”

The term “how” is most commonly used in questions, but you can also use it in statements. In statements, “how” means in what manner or way something is or how somebody does something.

  • How we finished it in time was quite an achievement.
  • How he reached the position of supervisor is a mystery to most people.

Furthermore, in questions, the word “how” is not the word that determines the question’s meaning. Instead, the words that follow “how” signify the meaning, while “how” merely introduces the question.

For example, these four sentences are pretty similar in structure, but all have very different meanings.

  • How long did it take you to get here? (time)
  • How did you enjoy the meal? (to what extent)
  • How did you get here? (by what means of transport)
  • How much did it cost? (a numerical value)

We have covered the basics of starting a sentence with the word “how.” Now, continue reading the rest of the page to learn about “how” in formal and informal writing.

We’ve also provided some useful formal alternatives to using “how” at the beginning of a sentence.

Can You Start a Sentence With “How” in Formal Writing?

You can start sentences with the word “how” in formal writing, and it is widespread.

In addition, you can use it to pose questions in essays and academic writing.

  • Oil companies escape windfall taxes and make record profits. How can renewable energy compete?
  • The amount of homeless on America’s streets is rising. How should authorities resolve this issue?

Also, the word “how” can also be used in formal statements. In this context, “how” means the “manner” in which something is performed.

  • Biodiversity has shrunk by over 70% in 50 years. How we continue to destroy the planet is frustrating for many.

Instead of starting a sentence with “how” in formal writing, you can use a formal synonym, which is more appropriate.

  • By what means
  • By what method
  • To what degree
  • Whereby

Can You Start a Sentence With “How” in Informal Writing?

You can start sentences with “how” in informal writing. For example, you often use it in questions or statements about “how” somebody does something.

When using “how” to start a question, the words that follow it determine what the question means. There are many possibilities of what you can add after “how.” As shown in these examples:

  • How does that plan sound to you? (an opinion)
  • How should we proceed? (a plan)
  • How fast is that car? (a number)

In statements, you use “how” to refer to the “way” something is or the way you do something.

  • How they managed to win the game is a miracle.
  • How he gets away with being so cheeky is beyond me.