What's the weather like vs. How's the weather?

I would like to know if you say “What’s the weather like?” or “How’s the weather like?”. If by chance this is the American and British English versions…

Thank you…

Not to my ears; the second merely sounds very casual.

Did you notice the word ‘like’ in that second sentence, MM?
The second sentence doesn’t even sound “casual” to me – it only sounds wrong.

I’d say either
“What’s the weather like?”

  • or -
    “How’s the weather?” (Do not use the word ‘like’ in this sentence.)

And you can say “What’s the weather like?” when you wanna know what type of climate is there, right?

And “How’s the weather?” when you wanna know if it’s rainning or sunny, etc, right?

Well, I would not say that “What’s the weather like” would be used exclusively to mean “What sort of climate does that area generally have?” (Was that your question?)

If I were on the telephone with friends in another city, for example, I might say:
“What’s the weather like (today)?”
“What’s the weather been like (recently)?”

What you might also hear in conversation is a question like this:
What’s the weather doing?:smiley:

Yes, I did notice the ‘like’, Yankee. When I said ‘casual’, I really meant casual– I do hear people say it that way sometimes, sometimes jocularly.

I did not even consider ‘How’s the weather’ as part of the question, though-- my bad.

Zuka, just one piece of advice not related to your question: Don’t write wanna. Wanna and gonna are not part of standard English, and if you get into the habit of writing them, you might wind up having trouble in a situation where you need to write correct English.

MM, I have never, ever heard a native English speaker say, “How is the weather like?” even as a joke. If anyone does, I’d suggest it could be one of those cases where native speakers are having fun with the mistakes of foreigners. I know ESL teachers who, among themselves, jokingly call a word “a vocabulary” in imitation of their foreign students. There are all kinds of things like this people do when they’re spoofing foreigners’ English. In fact, that’s the origin of “Long time, no see!”

Thank you so much for the notice!

My primary queu was due to a question that my english teacher made me. She asked me how to say: Como est? o tempo? (I’m portuguese and this is portuguese, lol). I answered: How’s the weather?
She said that it was the biggest mistake I could say in english… I even asked other engliah teacher about this question and the said: How’s the weather like? It makes sense! But the teacher keeps saying it’s What’s the weather like?
My doubt comes from there…

sorry for the mistakes!!! :frowning:

Your teacher is wrong. Both “How is the weather?” and “What is the weather like?” are perfectly correct, grammatical English, and native speakers ask both of those questions all the time.

There’s a problem with weaker English teachers that they are so afraid of having their English affected by their own language that they even reject correct English if an expression sounds too much like one in their native tongue. Sometimes such teachers will tell you that correct things are wrong, just because they think they sound too much like the students’ own language.

Perhaps the teacher was referring to the difference between the questions:

- How is someone? and

- What is someone like?
The first refers to someone’s health, while the second is to ask about someone’s looks and/or character.

Conchita, I think the teacher was just rejecting the sentence “How is the weather?” because it is word for word the same as in Portuguese. She probably thought that if the syntax was too close to Portuguese, it couldn’t be right. A lot of teachers have weird ideas of this sort.

Hi Jamie,

I think what Conchita had in mind is this:

How is your new boss? He is fine, thanks.
What is your new boss like? He is quite demanding but that’s OK. I think I’ll get along just fine.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Customer calls to cancel cable TV subscription[YSaerTTEW443543]

I understand that, Torsten, but that kind of thinking is not applied to the weather question. “How is the weather?” and, “What is the weather like?” are understood as the same question, and they elicit the same answer. I still think the teacher had an aversion to any sentence that had the same wording as a Portuguese sentence. I’ve never had a foreign teacher argue with me about “how…” and “what…like”, but countless times I’ve seen them accuse people of making a mistake when a perfectly good English sentence happened to have the same syntax as its equivalent in their own language.

Example: If you want to fail an English exam at a German high school, try writing an absolutely perfect English sentence like, “Never have I seen such a thing,” or, “Rarely have we let anyone do that.” The German teacher will think it’s Germlish and mark the student down.

Hi Torsten
The question “How is your boss?” is not necessarily asked to find out about health only. It depends on the context. This question is regularly used to elicit exactly the same sort of response/information that “What is your boss like?” does. For example, imagine that the context is that the boss is new:

Q: “How is your (new) boss?”
A: “He is quite demanding, but that’s OK. I think we’ll get along just fine.”

Amy, you should tell that to EFL textbook authors, who (invariably and unfailingly) make a point of comparing these two expressions* and establishing a clear difference in meaning between them.

  • What is (he, she, etc.) like? vs How is (he, she, etc.)?

Hi Conchita

I think one problem is that ESL textbooks invariably focus on the question “How are you?” As I see it, that particular question has two functions, both of which are only related to health or well-being:

  1. A meaningless, but standard and polite “non-question”. Theoretically, you are politely inquiring about someone’s general well-being and/or health, but it is not really a question. Instead, it’s a just a standard greeting used in order to be polite. Not more. If you happen to be suffering from a killer headache and a terrible case of the runs when someone asks you that question, you certainly are not expected to mention or go into any detail about your current state of ill-health. Instead, an equally standard but meaningless response is expected. For example: “Fine thanks, and you?” or “Not too bad. How are you?”

  2. An honest question that a friend might ask out of real interest and concern about your general well-being and/or health. Someone might also ask how your family is. In this case, the response is less likely to be a standard answer and more likely to be a more “truthful” and detailed response about general health/well-being.

But, I don’t think any of this is news to you.

If you ask “How is he/she/it?” (i.e. third person), the question is frequently an inquiry about someone’s health. However, the broader context plays a role in whether someone’s health or something else is actually being inquired about. Asking “How’s your new boss?” is likely to be the same sort of question as “How’s the weather?” or “How’s the soup?” In other words, the expected response will likely include some descriptive adjectives – none of which is likely to be health-related.

The point I’m trying to make (not very well, apparently!) is that students are taught again and again (in fact, it’s a regular feature in textbooks) that the question to ask should be ‘What’s your new boss like?’ rather than ‘How’s your new boss?’, in the context you’ve given.

I’m curious as to which textbooks, Conchita, because I have not noticed that in the ones I use here. Are they texts for the European market? Are they written by native speakers?

Perhaps it is a case of the vain wish to simplify-- I certainly run across other cases where texts offer limited language solutions to circumstances that actually accept a vast range of possible responses.

Hi Conchita,

I suppose the generalization is justifiable for low level learners.
Have you seen the same thing in, say, an intermediate or upper intermediate ESL book?