What do you gain by that?

Hello everyone,

Am I likely to hear the phrase ''What do you gain by that?'' (used when you ask someone why they did or are doing something, generally bad or useless) in the examples that I made up below in everyday casual conversation?

a. Why are you always lying to your parents? What do you gain by that? It's so wrong! [mother says to her young son]
b. I can't get why you're such a rude woman! What do you gain by that? [a coworker said that to another coworker]

Thank you in advance!
 
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I, personally, would use "get" in American English.

    "What does that get you?"

    Gain sounds a bit too formal. Not objectively formal but too formal for the context of an everyday conversation.

    b. I don't understand why you're so rude! What does that get you? [a coworker said that to another coworker]

    A little more formal: What do you hope to gain from that?
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    @kentix,

    Would/Could you substitute "What" with "Where" in your sentence with the same meaning? ('Get' as a UKer sounds odd to me but with "Where" maybe a little more acceptable.)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    You could use either but they aren't the same meaning. In "what does that get you", "what" is the specific benefit – respect, people leaving you alone, nothing ... whatever might result from what you're doing. Often it's just rhetorical because the speaker believes there is no benefit in acting that way.

    "Where does that get you?" is more about a position. What new improved position have you moved into because of that behavior? Again, probably a rhetorical question most of the time.
     
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