Describe is pretty common with how, for example: How do you describe yourself?

My question is: Can I use what with the verb describe, for example: What do you describe yourself as?

I suppose the answer would be one word (for describing yourself).

I have a dialog with a similar situation:

John: So you are saying she said decadent about our uncle?!

Victoria: That's what she described him. But please, John, don't get angry at her. She didn't mean it, I think.

Is it correct, in my dialog, to use what since she (the person who is talked about) described their uncle by one word?

1 Answer 1


'How' functions as an adverb, and can be used with any sentence that has a verb. 'What' functions as a noun, and can only appear in a sentence as the subject or object of the verb, or with a preposition. You can say:

What did you describe? I described a difficult situation.
How did you describe it? I described it as a challenge.

So the original sentence "That's what she described him" is incorrect because the 'what' can neither be the subject nor the object of 'described'. It could be corrected either as "That's how she described him" or using an attributive ditransitive verb like 'call' as "That's what she called him".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .