Why or What for

cochis

New Member
portuguese Brazil
Hello,

Could you tell me any examples of the following questions patterns:

1) What...for?
2) Why...?

What is de difference between these questions.

Thanks in advance
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Bemvindo Cochis,

    I would find it easier to answer in the Portuguese forum, with direct equivalents, but I'll test my English skills..

    "What ..for" asks about an intended outcome or purpose or use. We ask, for example, "What is the hammer used for?"
    It is used for hitting or driving nails or other objects. The intended purpose or mission is in the answer.

    "Why" simply asks for an explanation of something. Why do we eat? The explanation tells us the cause for eating, such as abating hunger, or for nutrition or survival. Why questions may also elicit replies that address motives, but not necessarily usage or purpose.


    cochis said:
    Hello,

    Could you tell me any examples of the following questions patterns:

    1) What...for?
    2) Why...?

    What is de difference between these questions.

    Thanks in advance
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    In colloquial English, the what...for? structure adds a sense of outrage or annoyance that is missing in the generic why..?

    Why did you do that?
    could refer to anything. Why did you give that flower to grandma? was it her birthday?

    What did you do that for? implies that it was something bad, even with no additional information. What did you give that flower to grandma for? It was my prize petunia!

    Note that this is completely different from the standard usage that cuchflete described.
     
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