How the native speakers say it
From San Jose Mercury News, March 6:
And well, she did lie to investigators who were looking into how it was she knew to sell her Imclone stocks just before it tanked.
Wouldn't it be nice we could write it like this? I would have written like:
And well, she did lie to investigators who were looking into how she knew when to sell her Imclone stocks just before it dropped to the bottom.
Sure, I like to imitate, but I can't understand (1) What is "It was", and (2) why "when" is omitted from the original sentence.
Re: How the native speakers say it
The first "How it was" is a bit of an idiom. It means "how it came to be that" or "how it happened that". I like your version with the added "when" better. The other is grammatical, but in this case, the timing was the problem.
Originally Posted by Anonymous