Why do you learn/are you learning English?

Magixo

Senior Member
Croatian
How to ask someone why is he/she learning//does he/she learn English?

(a) Why are you learning English?
(b) Why do you learn English?
(c) Why have you been learning English?

Which one is right and why?

It appeared to me that B could have been quite right, but later they told me it is wrong? :confused:

Thanks,
Magixo
 
  • french4beth

    Senior Member
    US-English
    I agree with Tony - example (a) sounds the most language.

    If you want to use the verb 'to do', you could say:
    "Why did you decide to learn English?"
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Yes, OK.

    Let's immagine a situation where a person comes to an interview. The interviewer is starting to make questions. The first question is:
    What's your name?
    Where are you from?
    ...
    and,
    Why are you learninig English?
    ....
    But, the interviewer is not interested why is she learning English at this very moment. He wants to make more general question.
    Thus, according to the grammar he should ask:

    Why do you learn English?

    Thanks,
    Magixo
     

    paperclip013

    Member
    Bulgarian, Bulgaria
    Hola a todos,

    I think the verb "learn" is misused in this sentence. Instead, the verb "to study" is more appropriate. Let us consider the difference between "to learn" and "to study."

    To study a subject is to apply oneself with the ultimate goal of accummulating some knowledge about the thing (whatever it may be.) In contrast, to learn implies that all the available knowledge about the thing has been acquired. It follows then that a person studies any given subject in order to learn about it.

    In your case, to say "I have learned Spanish" implies that I know everything there is to know about the language. To say "I am studying/have studied Spanish" implies that I have made an effort, acquired some knowledge, but I have not accummulated all the information that exists about Spanish.

    To put this little lecture into visual terms, think of "to study" as a person swimming in an ocean, and think of "to learn" as a person who has just come out of the ocean and is sitting down as pleased as can be. :)

    Good luck,
    Paperclip013
     

    Hockey13

    Senior Member
    AmEnglish/German
    I agree with paperclip:

    Why do you study English? :tick:

    Why are you studying English? :tick:

    Why do you learn English? :cross: In this context. It could mean "Why does one learn English (but with the editorial "you").

    Why are you learning English? :tick: If the person is learning it outside of a formal environment.
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    ..."I have learned Spanish" implies that I know everything there is to know about the language....
    Yes, but you can simply ask:
    How long have you been learning it?

    My question is why one should use the Present Progressive tense in the question (a) and not the Present Simple if he wants to make a grammatically correct question.
     

    paperclip013

    Member
    Bulgarian, Bulgaria
    Hello to everyone,

    You can choose any tense - present simple, present continuous, present perfect - but the point I am trying to make here is that the verb is "study." Hence:

    Why did you decide to study English?
    Why have you been studying English?
    Why are you studying English?
    Why did you choose to study English?

    The only exception that comes to my mind is the following sentence:
    Why are you trying to learn English?

    Buena suerte con todo,
    Paperclip013
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    I agree with paperclip:


    Why do you learn English? :cross: In this context. It could mean "Why does one learn English (but with the editorial "you").
    As I understand It, this question emphesises 'YOU' instead of 'LEARN'!? Why do you, but not him, learn English!

    Thanks,
    Magixo
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Why did you decide to study English?
    Why have you been studying English?
    Why are you studying English?
    Why did you choose to study English?

    The only exception that comes to my mind is the following sentence:
    Why are you trying to learn English?
    So I can use the verb study more freely. Thus the question:

    Why do you study English?

    will be correct!

    Thanks,
    Magixo
     

    paperclip013

    Member
    Bulgarian, Bulgaria
    Hola and hello,

    Yes, you can use a different tense of the verb "to study." However, keep in mind that different tenses express different meanings. For instance, if you are the interviewer of a student or job applicant, it makes more sense to stick to the formal past tense or present perfect ("Why did you decide to study Spanish?" or "How long have you been studying Spanish?") In a less formal setting, say in a meeting with a cute girl or boy, it makes more sense to use a friendlier approach "Why are you studying Spanish? How long have you been studying Spanish?"

    I hope this helps. Suerte,

    Paperclip013
     

    Nasdiego

    New Member
    Arabic
    Well, for me, I will ask with these questions:
    Why do you study English?
    Why are you studying English?
    Why have you been studying English?
    What the reason that makes you study English?
    Lots and lots of questions come to your mind to ask this particular question.
     
    While paperclip has some good points, I think there is some room for different emphasis between using "learn" or "study"; or maybe panjandrum is right and we just use learn when we oughtn't. But to return to the 3 sentences--others have said what #2 means but I want to talk about #3. Depending on the context, using this tense could place the emphasis not on simply finding out why you are learning English, but on getting an answer from you to compare with my idea. For example: You silly boy, why have you been learning English? We're going Spain this summer. Just a thought.
     
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