How do you like this hat? (RHD)

The example’s ‘how’ is included in the denotation of ‘to what extent or degree’ (here, adverb how#2 in its online version). But when I look up Cambridge, it seems to be ‘used when asking someone for an opinion.’ OALD also seems to have the opinion as in: How did you like Japan (= did you find it pleasant)? In OALD, ‘like’ having this meaning, to find something pleasant, ‘how’ seems to be that it’s a kind of dummy - pleonastic? I don't find proper words - word: I mean, without ‘how’ it can make sense.
It’s very difficult to understand the ‘how,’ so I asked the Korean interpretation to a Korean language institute - I asked about this sentence: “How do you like this dress?” (Of course, it was Korean sentence - 어떻게 이 옷 마음에 들어?” not English -- it's not a place for asking foreign languages, only for my own tongue, so it would not be directly applied -- I tried this to understand the how indirectly from my language for I don’t understand the how in English way.). They say the Korean ‘how’ (어떻게) in the case is a kind of interjection, used colloquially. When I interpret the example from RHD, based on the institute’s Korean word explanation, I guess it would be making sense in English, too. I’m afraid if I could deliver what I think well, but what do you think of the ‘how’?

  • 2
    In your example "How do you like this hat?", you could say that how doesn't really "mean" anything at all. In almost all contexts it would make little or no difference whether it was present or not. You could understand it as meaning "To what extent (if at all) do you like this?" if that helps you. But note that this usage is somewhat different to "How do you clean this hat?" (what method do you use to clean it?). Oct 23, 2014 at 13:37
  • 2
    ...having said all that, I don't actually understand the question here. Oct 23, 2014 at 13:38
  • @FumbleFingers, Yes, it's always hard to deliver the concept that I don't know well to others, and for readers it would be excruciatingly difficult to catch the gist, I guess. But your comment is very helpful, for I've not yet found the kind in any dictionaries, except that yours is somewhat similar - to me - with the aforementioned Korean answerer. I'm very much obliged for this comment.
    – Listenever
    Oct 23, 2014 at 15:09
  • 2
    There's also a bit about this "how" usage in the 2002 CGEL, page 908, "(b) Adverbial degree modifier". Example [16.iv] "How did you like the concert?" That seems to have the meaning of "How much did you like the concert?", and so, your example seems to have the meaning of "How much do you like this hat?"
    – F.E.
    Oct 23, 2014 at 18:39
  • 1
    @F.E. Thank you so much. I've once read the same page, which was lead by @snailboat, but I've forgot that. After reading your comment, I asked again to them about Korean how - this time '얼마나', which is adverbial degree modifier. It's a way of possible expression. So the lack of my imagination prevented the understaning.
    – Listenever
    Oct 24, 2014 at 2:23

2 Answers 2


How has several meanings, among them "in what manner" and "to what degree|extent".

The precise definition of one sense of how ("to what extent or degree") and a definition that describes the social context of its use ("used when asking someone for an opinion") are not really at odds with each other. The opinion sought in that social context is "to what extent or degree" the person asked regards a thing to possess a certain quality.

How do you like this dress?

[Do you think it looks|will look good, or very good, on me? Or not good at all?]

Tell me, how do you like your new school?

[To what extent has it met your hopes and expectations?]


'How' in this context is a slang-style usage originating in America, and essentially a contracted version of 'How much do you like this hat?'

I've never heard or seen it used in the UK in normal conversation, and a more typical usage would be 'Do you like this hat?' Or more informally 'How great/good is this hat?'

  • 2
    It did not originate in America: How do you like (or How like you in EME) has been current in English at least since Common Conditions, ca 1576. Oct 23, 2014 at 15:12
  • 1
    "Do you like this hat?" invites a yes/no answer; "How do you like this hat?" (which seems perfectly natural to me as a native British speaker) invites a more detailed answer and means something like "To what degree and in what ways do you like this hat?" Oct 23, 2014 at 16:31

You must log in to answer this question.

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