Can You Start a Sentence With “How”?

Have you ever wondered if it's grammatically correct to start a sentence with the word "how"? This topic has been a source of debate among writers, editors, and English language enthusiasts. If you're looking for a definitive answer, keep reading, as this article will provide you with a comprehensive guide on this topic.

The Role of "How" in a Sentence

The term "how" is primarily used as an adverb in English language. However, it can also function as a conjunction, an exclamation, or even a noun in certain contexts. As an adverb, "how" is commonly used to introduce a question, specifying the manner or extent of an action. As a conjunction, it is often used to introduce indirect questions or clauses of manner.

Instances Where Starting With "How" Works Well

Starting a sentence with "how" is not only grammatically acceptable but also often desirable, especially when you're asking a question or emphasizing a point. The context in which "how" is best suited at the beginning of a sentence is when you want to express curiosity, surprise, or seek detailed information. Here are five real-world examples:

Sentence Explanation
How are you doing today? The word "how" introduces a direct question.
How strange it was to see him after all these years! Here, "how" is used for emphasis and to express surprise.
How to start a blog was the subject of her presentation. In this instance, "how" begins an indirect question.
How I wish I could go back in time! This sentence uses "how" to express a strong desire or wish.
How the movie ended left everyone in shock. This sentence uses "how" to begin a clause of manner.

Instances Where Caution is Needed

While it is generally acceptable to start a sentence with "how", there are situations where it might seem awkward or potentially confusing. For example, when "how" is used incorrectly to introduce a statement rather than a question or exclamatory sentence, it can cause confusion. Here are five examples where caution is needed:

Sentence Explanation
How I am going to the store. This sentence is confusing as it seems like a question but lacks a question mark.
How he is a good actor. The usage of "how" here incorrectly implies a question.
How the cat jumped on the table and knocked over a glass. This sentence lacks clarity as it reads like an incomplete thought.
How the weather is nice today. The usage of "how" in this sentence is awkward and unnatural.
How she is wearing a red dress. This sentence is confusing because it seems to be missing a verb after "how".

Tips for Using "How" at the Beginning of a Sentence

To effectively use "how" at the start of a sentence, remember that it often precedes a question or an exclamatory statement. Do use it to ask about the manner or extent of something, or to express surprise or strong emotion. Don't use it to introduce a simple statement or fact.

Common Misconceptions and Myths

It's a common myth that starting a sentence with "how" is incorrect or informal. This misconception likely arises from a misunderstanding of the different roles "how" can play in a sentence. Here are a few misconceptions and the reasons they are wrong:

  • Myth: You can't start a sentence with "how".
    • Truth: As demonstrated, "how" can effectively start a sentence, particularly in questions or exclamatory sentences.
  • Myth: Starting a sentence with "how" is informal.
    • Truth: The formality of a sentence starting with "how" depends on the context, not the word "how" itself.


In conclusion, it is grammatically correct and often desirable to start a sentence with "how", particularly when asking a question or expressing surprise or strong emotion. However, care should be taken to use "how" correctly to avoid confusion or awkwardness. Remember, the key to effective usage lies in understanding the various roles "how" can play in a sentence.

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