I had an argument with my teacher; in an exercise which was ordering words to form a sentence, I perhaps created a strange one. The sentence I made is this:

How do you like to be when a business partner close(s) to speak (with) you.

As you can notice I have some marked questions about the grammar of the sentence, but the most important question is regarding if it makes sense or not. My teacher told me it really doesn't make sense but I don't think so. Here are my arguments:

  1. "How do you like to be" I know the made pattern, how do you like + noun, that is an opinion request question, but I think we can change the meaning of, how do you like, if we add an infinitive verb instead of a gerund or a noun. e.g. The famous interview question "How do you like to be managed?"
  2. The meaning of close, my teacher told me that I can't use close as a verb synonym of — get nearer; approach; or get close. I looked up in the online dictionary, Merriam-Webster, the definitions of close and found, as a verb, this one:
  • To draw near—the ship was closing with the island.
    So, what do you think? Is it common or not? Does the phrase make sense with this verb?
  1. I'm doubtful about the use of this conjugation close/s. I think it should be without the "s" because of the subjunctive mood.
  2. Is the use of the preposition "with": spoiling the phrase; necessary; or it really doesn't matter adding or skipping it?

1 Answer 1


It's odd, and certainly I'd have no idea what kind of answer you are expecting.

"How do you like to be" - this is problematic. Sure it is possible to ask "How do you like your eggs" or "How do you like to be managed", but I would have no idea what you want kind of answer you expect here: Sorry but this is not the correct question to pose!

"when a business partner closes to speak with you" Again, this is odd. It sounds like the partner is some kind of homing missile, or you are in a race and the partner is catching you up. Sorry, but "closes" is the wrong verb.

The subjunctive is not triggered by "when", and so "...when [she] close" is grammatically incorrect. Anyway the subjunctive would be inappropriate in this semi-formal context.

However the use of "with" is correct, but "to" is also possible (with nuanced change in meaning). The preposition can't be skipped; "speak" is not a transitive verb.

And so the sentence is not "correct"; it is not the best way to express yourself.

Instead of "How do you like to be", you could ask "How do you present yourself...", maybe using the word "demeanour", or perhaps completely rephrase to something like "Do you maintain a friendly demeanour...". For the second part, "when a business partner comes to talk with you" is a better expression.

What demeanour do you present when a business partner comes to talk with you?

  • Mr. james, I never asked if it was odd but if it was correct. why is it problematic? what kind of person will answer "I like to be -a human/in an office" it's ridiculous if you pay attention to the context. clearly, the question is not going to be regarding being either an animal or whatever none sense being nor in a specific place. I'm not a native and I'm looking for help, not an answer like yours. I know subjunctive mood is not pretty used nowadays but we are in a web page for English learners that I consider high level, though speaking about it shouldn't be treated as a not existing mood. Jun 3, 2022 at 6:49
  • Perhaps you could tell me examples of the kind of answers you want, then it would be clearer how it could be phrased.
    – James K
    Jun 3, 2022 at 7:00
  • 1
    what I would like to ask with the question is, what is the behavior a person take/performance when a partner approaches him/her to speak: is the person friendly, outgoing or close to speak? we could change the question for this one "what are you like when business colleague get close to speak with you?" in this sense I'm trying to use, how, as a question word regarding the manner, and trying to use the verb, to be, regarding the attitude/way to be/behavior. Jun 3, 2022 at 19:24
  • Edited re your comment. There is a useful word "demeanour" meaning "outward appearance/behaviour and it can be friendly, outgoing, or cold.
    – James K
    Jun 3, 2022 at 19:38
  • I definitely can see my error about the verb close, it was just incorrect. checking the answers that you told me are the first that come to the mind for the question "how do you like to be" what about the common basic question "how are you" in that question we only use the verb "to be" and we know that it's regarding the mood/state: doing well, fairly well, bad... etc. so the structure is: 1- how: = adverb meaning in what way. 2-do you like: = question about a preference. 3- to be: if we use the same meaning as in "how are you" is it regarding the mood. In Spanish, it really makes sense Jun 4, 2022 at 4:29

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