Sorry for this question which may be trivial:

What's the difference between

  1. How can I translate it into English ?
  2. How to translate it into English ?

The modal verb "can" expresses the ability to do something; I understand that the subject is missing in the second question, however, I hear/read the structure How to very often from natives as well.

1 Answer 1


Your example #1 is correct when you want to ask a question.

Example #2 is only a fragment of a question. It should be something like:

Can you tell me how to translate it into English?

Or it might be a statement:

I need to know how to translate it into English.

While you might hear #2 spoken as a partial sentence (usually for emphasis), you probably won't see it written that way unless it's part of a dialog where the person is talking to himself or thinking out loud.

  • or unless you read question titles on StackExchange sites. It drives me nuts sometimes.
    – Esther
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 17:21
  • That's a good point! Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 17:28
  • Titles of things are often written in Headlinese.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 17:50

You must log in to answer this question.

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