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      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
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    • Join Date: Dec 2011
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    How do we answer "how" questions?

    Here's a quote from a movie script (Batman: The Dark Night) which I found pretty confusing.

    Bruce: "How will it hold up against dogs?"(The ‘it“ in the question refers to one of Batman's gadgets)
    The technician: "It should do fine against cats."

    In here, I actually expected an answer that explains how the gadget works rather than how it is(fine, good or bad) for the"how" question.

    Because for example, "How are you gonna prepare the exam?", the answer would reasonably be "I am gonna study the book first and then do some exercise problems". And it should be very unusual that people answered "I am gonna prepare the exam very well."

    So my question is, when faced with a "how" question, how do we know if we should explain how things work in the reply, or give a comment with words like"good","well", "Ok" or "bad"?

  1. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
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      • England
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      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
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    Re: How do we answer "how" questions?

    As is so often the case, context is important. Normally the intended meaning of the question will be clear to the listener from the context

    There is a possibility of ambiguity/misunderstanding sometimes; if there is, clarification may be needed:

    A: I went to visit George yesterday. That new hospital is an enormous place!
    B: How did you find him?
    A: I had to ask several people before I finally got to his ward.
    B: No, I meant 'how was he?'

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