Why and When


Today we are going to have a look at two common question words in English: why and when.

It is important to know exactly how to form questions using these words. The rules also apply to other question words like “where”, “how” and “who”.

* We usually form wh-questions with wh- + an auxiliary verb (to be, to do or to have) + a subject + the main verb.

Why is used to obtain information or ask the reason for something.

When is used to ask about a time or an occasion.

Look at some examples:

• Why do they always drive so fast?
Perché guidano sempre così veloce?

• Why is the sky blue?
Perché il cielo è blu?

• Why is John staying at your house at the moment?
Perché adesso John sta a casa vostra?

• When are they leaving?
Quando vanno via?

• When do you usually go to the supermarket?
Di solito quando vai al supermercato?

• When do the school holidays start?
Quando iniziano le vacanze per le scuole?

* We also use this form with modal verbs (can, should, must, etc):

wh- + a modal verb + a subject + the main verb.

For example,

• Why can’t I go to the party, Mum?
Mamma, perché non posso andare alla festa?

• When must we give you back your computer?
Quando ti dobbiamo ridare il computer?

Remember that why and when are not yes or no questions and require a given answer.

For example,

Why are you so tired today?
Perché oggi sei così stanco?

Because I went to bed late last night.
Perché ieri sono andato a dormire tardi.