It makes sense when translated word for word from my native language but apparently it's wrong. I know I'm mixing up "how" and "what".

"What's it like living in London?", does sound natural to me because I see this sentence structure all around me.

Is there a way to visualise why the first sentence is wrong? Some grammar rule of some sort?

1 Answer 1


In this context, "what ... like" is an idiomatic phrase that means the same as "how". "What is London like?" means the same as "How is London?"

The "like" in "what ... like" comes from the preposition "like" meaning "similar to". The word "what" is the object of the preposition "like".

On the other hand, "how" is an adverb so it cannot be the object of a preposition. "How is London like?" means "How is London similar to?", which is bad grammar and nonsense.

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