AIM: To understand the meaning and use of question forms with how and what ... like.
INTRODUCTION: In the back pain case, the doctor asks the patient for information about the general state of different things/situations. The expected response is a general evaluation.
How’s the situation at home? – It’s hard because I’m a working mum. But we’re coping OK.
How’s your relationship with your husband? – Yeah, it’s OK.
The doctors never mentioned ‘How’s physio going?’ or anything.
This can be contrasted with questions about description of things/situations (their characteristics or appearance). In this case, the expected response provides some detail.
What’s the pain like? – It comes and goes. It’s worse when I’ve been sitting for a long time.
What does the leg look like? – It’s very swollen and red.
What does the baby’s cough sound like? – Just like a dog barking. I think he’s really sick.
Consider these pairs of questions and responses.
How’s the pain? – It’s actually not too bad today, almost bearable for once!
What’s the pain like? – It’s sharp and sudden, like being stabbed with a knife.
How’s the wound? – Awful.
What’s the wound like? – It’s a fairly deep cut about 10cm long.
How is he these days? – Well, he has his ups and downs but generally he’s fine, all things considered.
What’s he like? – Well, he’s a born optimist, always looking on the bright side.
INSTRUCTIONS: For this phone conversation between Steve, who has a knee injury, and his doctor, drag and drop the answers from the box below so they match the corresponding questions.