I came across one of the questions founded in the TOEFL.

... is entirely up to him

(The correct answer)

-How he travels

(what I choose)

-How is he traveling

(what I thought to be correct, but didn't appear as an option )

-How does he travel

How could the third clause above didn't appear in the question? And it's a common sense for me to just say the first sentence above is correct but since I just followed the writing rules and couldn't even explain why I feel it's correct so I chose the second sentence.

I know that I can omit modal (do/does) in Wh- question, like 'who wants to be...', but 'how he travels...' is completely unrelated since there is 'he' there.

Is there any specific information on this topic in English grammar? What do we call it? Is it just fixed pattern? Perhaps it might be considered to be easy, but I miss this kind of things like a lot times.

1 Answer 1


To be correct, "How is he travelling ..." should be re-ordered to "How he is travelling ..." in this situation. It is then equally as correct as "How he travels..."

"How does he travel..." is wrong in this situation, as "how" is being used as a conjunction between the two clauses. The sentence could equally be written as "It is entirely up to him how he travels." This re-ordering of the sentence makes it clearer that "how" is being used as a conjunction.

How can also used to ask a question, e.g. "How does he do it?" or "How does he travel?". Whenever "how" is being used to ask a question, it is acting like the "Wh-" words - what, when, where, why, who.

As Rudyard Kipling once wrote:

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

You must log in to answer this question.

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