If I want to know and ask how to do something, for example, when I want to know how we can keep ourselves enthusiastic, can I ask like this?

How is it that we can keep ourselves enthusiastic?

But, the problem is this sentence sounds like I am asking why.


  1. How can we keep ourselves enthusiastic?

  2. How is it that we can keep ourselves enthusiastic?

Don't these two sentences have the same meaning?

2 Answers 2


No, they do not mean the same thing.

1) means "What should we do to keep ourselves enthusiastic?"

2) means "How is it possible that we are able to keep ourselves enthusiastic?"


This form of question, How is it that ...? implies that the speaker is finding something hard to believe or difficult to comprehend:

How is it that the ship ran aground if its navigational systems were functioning properly?

If you are not the art thief, how is it that the missing paintings ended up in the trunk of your car?

The facts would suggest otherwise. The How-is-it form of question is asked in light of something already known, something which has already happened.

How is it that we are able to remain enthusiastic after all of these setbacks?

The "How can..." form of the question can be forward-looking in a way that "How is it that..." cannot.

How can we remain enthusiastic? We are apt to experience setbacks.

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