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How is a wh- word, which means that it marks something that is unknown. It is most often translated with comme, comment or combien. It is used when you want to know the method, the manner, or the way something is done or is going.

Method, manner, way

  • How are you doing? comment vas-tu?
  • How do you do? comment allez-vous? used only when you meet someone for the first time ever
  • How is it going? (comment) ça va?
  • How can I get a refund? comment je fais pour me faire rembourser?
  • How can you tell if it is cooked? comment peut-on (sa)voir si c'est cuit?
  • How shall I put it? euh... comment dire?
  • I don't care how you do it, just—please—get it done.

How + ADJ or ADV: degree? / measure?

It is used in combination with ADJ and ADV to ask about degree or measure.

  • How old is your car? Elle a quel âge, ta voiture?
  • I didn't realize just how cold it would get at night in the desert. Je ne me rendais pas compte jusqu'à quel degré il fait froid la nuit dans le desert.
  • How far did you get in the book? How many chapters/pages did you read?
  • How tall are you?
  • How heavy is it?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How much is it worth?
  • How soon can you get it done? (= when, but with a sense of urgency!)
  • How soon will you be ready?
  • How many hours did you work this week?
  • How many people came? remember that people is the plural of person
  • How long is the movie?
  • How long have you been waiting?
  • How often do you go to the market on Saturday morning?
  • I don't know how good this milk is. It's been open for several days.
  • It's amazing how small computers have become in my lifetime!


How much N
How much rain did you get?
How much pizza is left?
How much money do you have?
How much time do you have? (cf. How long do you have?)
How much time is the movie? (cf. How long is the movie?) <-- use How long? with "is" not "How much time?".) But, ...
How much time is left? (How long is left?)  :)
How much time have you already spent watching it? (How long have you already spent watching it?)
How much (of the) N
How much of the time will you actually be working while you're in Portland? Will you have to time to visit the city?
How much of your stuff was lost in the flood?
How much of the movie did you see before you fell asleep?
How many Ns
How many emails have you sent today?
How many people have you talked with today?
How many roads must a man walk down, before he's allowed to be free?

A fun technicality: in principle, in English, datum is singular and data is plural. However, since no human has time to count all the data, it is correct to say:

  • It's a bit scary how much data we give to companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft and to our ISPs (internet service providers).

Exclamative structure (no verb!)

Though these sentences start with a WH- word, they are not questions...

  • How nice! -- How sweet (of you)! -- How kind (of you)! comme c'est gentil !
  • How irritating!
  • How strange (is that)! -- How funny (is that)!
  • How reassuring!
  • How cute! -- etc...

nb: not just any ADJ works here... e.g. on ne dirait ni "How good!" ni "How bad!". Cf. what

Indirect questions

  • I don't know how to fix this bug.
  • We haven't figured out how to fix the bug.
  • I don't understand how this got broken.

Derived words

  • however 1. pourtant, en revanche 2. peu importe comment, de quelque manière que ce soit
  • howsoever (rare, legalistic) de quelque manière que ce soit, quelconque
  • know-how savoir-faire
  • how-to