General Question

flo's avatar

What is the alternative to "How do you be ..."?

Asked by flo (12974points) August 14th, 2015

And I don’t mean as in “How do you become a….(profession, etc.) “How do you be…” doesn’t sound right. I have heard this sentence a few times. I can’t think of an example though.

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17 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

“How are you?” is a polite way of inquiring as to how another person’s life is.

flo's avatar

@zenvelo It is not about inquiring the well being of a person at all. I wish I could hear someone else say it soon so I can give the context. Maybe this is an example:
“How do you be ambitious enough to climb Mount Everest? ” Let’s say the person has always been super ambitious so it is not about becoming one.

snowberry's avatar

Try, “What inspires you to…?”

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

How do you be a millionaire? First get a million dollars. Steve Martin.

zenvelo's avatar

@flo So what you are asking is not a “how ” question but a “what” or “where” question. There are alternatives such as @snowberry is leading, such as “what led to your having the ambition to…” or “where did your ambition come from?”.

JLeslie's avatar

How do you be? Doesn’t sound right to me. I’ve never heard a sentence worded like that I don’t think.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

How are you ambitious enough to climb Mount Everest?” would be a good alternative in the present tense, @flo. In past tense, you could word that kind of question as ”How did you become ambitious enough to climb Mount Everest?”.

How do you muster the will to be ambitious enough…”, ”How do you behave so ambitiously…”, etc.

JLeslie's avatar

Do you mean the verb to be? Conjugating the infinitive?

ibstubro's avatar

“Where do people get the will to…?”, perhaps.

kritiper's avatar

How did you aspire to become what you are? How did you come to be a…

Kardamom's avatar

Example: How do you be a good mother without resorting to spanking?

Alternative: Can you be a good mother without resorting to spanking your children?

Example: How do you be a good friend if you don’t have a lot of time to spend?

Alternative: What’s the best way to be a good friend if you don’t have a lot of time to spend with your friends?

Buttonstc's avatar

In the example given by @Kardamom, I think that “How do you be a good Mother….”
or “How do you be a good friend….” are perfectly fine just the way they are.

I don’t see any problem with “How do you be….” unless nothing else follows it and it’s being used as an alternative for “How are you?”.

In that case it would sound weird all by itself, but in the examples given, I see nothing wrong with it at all.

There are usually multiple ways of getting an idea across but since it’s not violating any grammatical rules, I see no reason for tortorously rearranging words ad infinitum.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

JustPlainBarb's avatar

How do you become…

How do you accomplish…

I’m not sure what you’re trying to say though.

flo's avatar

Thank you everyone, so much.
I meant what do you replace the word be by? The thing is I heard it from normally literate enough people which really surprises me. I would say heard it 2 or 3 times. It’s like people who should know better saying “The amount of…” when it should be the number of….”

flo's avatar

…I incorrectly used the word “alternative” in my OP, which makes it sound like I think it’s correct but l don’t mean that at all.

jca's avatar

It would sound better as “How can you be” instead of “How do you be.”

flo's avatar

That is for sure, it sounds better.

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