How and how

How has always had a variety of interrogative and exclamatory uses, either alone or in combination with other words (as with modern how about, how come?). Several present-day uses are to be found in Shakespearean English: then as now, how was used to express manner (‘I know how to curse’, Tem I.ii.364) and extent (‘How high a pitch his resolution soars!’, R2 I.i.109), and it was used in enquiries after health in similar ways to today. However was also often used in the modern way. Among the differences of expression are some correlative constructions (‘I’ll take the sacrament on’t, how and which way you will’, AW IV.iii.135), the use of how now as a greeting or exclamation ( GREETINGS; EXCLAMATIONS), and how- used as an element in compound forms. The chief differences are shown below, with examples of the compound uses as adverb and as conjunction.


Location Example Gloss
MM II.i.71 [Elbow] My wife, sir, whom I detest ... [EScenealus] How? Thy wife! what? [as exclamation]
TS IV.iii.20 How say you to a fat tripe finely broiled? what? [as interrogation]
MA III.i.59 I never yet saw man, / How wise, how noble however, to whatever extent
2H6 V.i.73 How art thou called? what, with what name
2H4 III.ii.37 How a good yoke of bullocks at Stamford fair? at what rate?, at what price?


Item Location Example Gloss
howbeit (adv.) Cor I.ix.69 Howbeit, I thank you nevertheless, however
howbeit (conj.) H5 I.ii.91 Howbeit they would hold up this Salic law / To bar your highness although, though
howbeit that (conj.) Oth II.i.279 The Moor - howbeit that I endure him not although, though
however, howe’er (conj.) Ham IV.iii.70 Howe’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun whatever
however, howe’er (conj.) KL IV.ii.66 Howe’er thou art a fiend, / A woman’s shape doth shield thee although, however much
howsoever, howsoe’er (adv.) MND V.i.27 [of the story] But howsoever, strange and admirable in any case, at any rate
howsoever, howsoe’er (adv.) KJ IV.ii.257 my form, / Which, howsoever rude exteriorly, / Is yet the cover of a fairer mind to whatever extent, in whatever degree
howsoever, howsoe’er (conj.) Tem V.i.158 howsoe’er you have / Been justled from your senses to whatever extent, in whatever degree
how ... soever, how ... soe’er (adv.) LLL I.i.189 How low soever the matter, I hope in God for high words to whatever extent, in whatever degree
howsomever (conj.) AW I.iii.56 howsome’er their hearts are severed in religion in whatever way, although

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