How About You: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
June 3, 2023

The phrase "How about you" is a reciprocal question to inquire about someone's feelings, opinions, or experiences, typically after sharing your own. This expression is a way of engaging others in conversation and showing interest in their perspective.

In short:

"How about you" is a way of asking others to share their thoughts, feelings, or experiences, often after you've shared your own.

What Does "How About You" Mean?

The phrase is a conversational tool frequently employed to express interest in another person's thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It encourages reciprocal sharing and fosters interpersonal connection.

Let's explore its core meanings and related expressions:

  • You may use it to ask for someone's opinion or perspective.
  • It is applicable in informal and friendly conversations.
  • It helps maintain a balanced dialogue by prompting others to share after you've shared something about yourself.

Where Does "How About You" Come From?

This phrase is a staple of conversational English and has been used for centuries. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when or where it first appeared, as it's a straightforward use of basic English words and grammar. It is likely that "how about you?" evolved organically from everyday language use rather than being coined at a specific point in time or in a specific text.

Historical Example

"Let us take a sharp look at these suggestions. Are they too Utopian? Too idealistic? Who will put them into practice, bring them about? Well, how about you?"

- Motion Pictures and Youth: The Payne Fund Studies, 1933

10 Examples of "How About You" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • I'm excited for chow time! I really love the food there, how about you?
  • I believe that education is the key to success. How about you?
  • Amidst the hustle and bustle, I'm finding brief moments of peace. How about you?
  • I plan on going to the concert next weekend. How about you?
  • How about you? Have you had problems logging in to your account last night?
  • I'm ordering a pizza for dinner. How about you?
  • The dish looks good on the menu. How about you - any recommendations?
  • I love reading historical fiction. How about you?
  • I received a gag gift that had everyone laughing. How about you, have any funny surprises lately?
  • I think we should go for a picnic this weekend. How about you?

Examples of "How About You" in Pop Culture

The phrase "How about you" commonly appears in songs, movies, and TV shows, highlighting its use in everyday conversation.

Let's look at some examples:

  • The song "How 'Bout You" by Burton Lane has the lyrics: "I like New York in June, how about you?I like a Gershwin tune, how about you? I love a fireside when a storm is due."
  • "How about you? I was ten. My father loved old movies, and we used to go to see them together,"  is a quote from the book "You Were Meant For Me" by Yona Zeldis McDonough.

Other/Different Ways to Say "How About You"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "how about you."

Some of these include:

  • And you?
  • What about you?
  • Your turn, what do you think?
  • What's your take on this?

The phrases share a similar function in re-directing the focus of the conversation onto the other speaker and balancing the exchange between both parties. You can select from these alternatives based on personal style and context.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "How About You":

  • What does "how about you" mean?

"How about you" is a question asking for someone's opinion, feelings, or experiences, usually after sharing one's own.

  • How can I use "how about you" in a sentence?

You can use "how about you" after sharing something about yourself and wanting to hear the other person's perspective. For example, "I love rock music. How about you?"

  • Where does the idiom "how about you" come from?

The phrase is a common part of English conversational language and doesn't have a specific origin point. It follows general English grammatical construction.

  • Can you use it in formal conversations?

"How about you" is primarily used in informal and friendly conversations, but it can also be used in formal discussions if appropriately contextualized.

  • Is it appropriate in written communication?

Yes, it can be used in both written and spoken communication.

  • Is the phrase considered polite?

Yes, "how about you" is generally perceived as polite as it shows interest in the other person's opinion or experience.

  • Can you use it to change the topic of conversation?

While it's primarily used to encourage the other person to share, it can be used to subtly shift the conversation topic.

  • Can one use the phrase humorously?

Yes, it can be used humorously. For instance, after telling a silly or absurd story, one might ask, "how about you?"

  • Does the phrase have any variations?

Similar phrases include "what about you," "and you," or "your turn."

  • Is it applicable in a professional context?

Yes, "how about you" can be used in a professional context to show interest in a colleague's opinion or experience.

Final Thoughts About "How About You"

The phrase "How about you" is a versatile conversational tool used to invite others to share their thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It's an indication of interest in the other person's perspective and can promote dialogue and rapport.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "How about you" is a polite way of asking for another person's opinion or experience.
  • The phrase has no specific origin but is a common part of the English conversational language.
  • While informal in style, it is suitable for use in a range of contexts, from casual chats to more formal discussions.

Whether in personal discussions or professional exchanges, "How about you" shows respect and a genuine interest in hearing from others. So use this phrase as an opportunity to be polite and gain insight into another's situation.

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