For example should I say:

How should I use a definite article with directions


How to use a definite article with directions

I think I have heard about the second one. It sounds general and I don't need to attach the question to myself. However it seems that it lacks the structure of question sentences.

  • 1
    Your first example is a syntactically valid sentence/question. The second is just a kind of "noun phrase" (compare I know John and I know how to use a definite article). Another difference is that using should implies there could be other ways of doing something (which might even work; they're just not the way you should / ought to do it). There's no such implication if you say I told him how to do it (which doesn't explicitly rule out the possibility of there being other ways, but that would normally be assumed). Jan 15, 2018 at 18:36
  • The second example is not a question. It could be the title of an article however.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 16, 2018 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


As FumbleFingers says, the first is a grammatical sentence: it is fine, but a more usual formulation would be

How do I use X?

The second is a noun phrase: you might well have seen it as the title (of an article, a section, or (on sites like this) a question. But it is not the question itself.

  • Thanks, can you ask the question without the pronoun I?
    – Ahmad
    Jan 15, 2018 at 19:53
  • You need a pronoun. But it doesn't have to be 'I'. A common to ask this sort of question is "How do you use X?"
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 16, 2018 at 12:23
  • In Persian we can ask such questions without any specific pronoun. To do this, we use the subjunctive mode. Something like "How should use X". As another way, both in Persian and English we can use passive mode like "How should X be used?"
    – Ahmad
    Jan 16, 2018 at 17:09

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