What vs Why

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What’s the difference between them?

What

Meaning:

What (pronoun): used to ask for information specifying something; used to introduce a question.

Examples:

1. What did you say?

2. What do you need help with?

3. What time is it?

Why

Meaning:

To explain a purpose, reason, or cause.

Examples:

1. 'Why did you do that?'

2. 'Why did you choose that option?'

3. 'Why is the sky blue?'

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference

Synonyms

Antonyms

What

1. That

2. Which

3. Whichever

4. Whatever

5. That which

1. Nothing

2. Opposite

3. Agreement

4. Disagree

5. Contrary

Why

1. Purpose

2. Reason

3. Explanation

4. Motive

5. Intent

1. Because

2. Since

3. Therefore

4. Hence

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "What", "Why".

1. When you need to ask a question, use 'what'.

2. When you need to explain why something happened, use 'why'.

3. 'What' makes a question, 'Why' makes an explanation.

Check the full list of commonly confused words in English

Learn the difference

Frequently asked questions

What situations should the word 'what' be used in?

The word 'what' should be used when asking for specific information or introducing a question. It can be used in informal or formal contexts, for example when asking someone what their opinion on a certain subject is, or when trying to clarify a point in a discussion.

When is the appropriate context for using the word 'why'?

The word 'why' should be used when trying to explain a purpose, reason, or cause. For example, when asking someone why they think a certain way, or when seeking clarification on a point.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, the two words have different pronunciations. The word 'what' is pronounced as 'wɒt', whereas the word 'why' is pronounced as 'waɪ'.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One common mistake people make when using these words is using 'why' when they should be using 'what'. For example, instead of saying 'What is the reason for this?', they might mistakenly say 'Why is the reason for this?'. Another mistake is using 'what' when they should be using 'why'. For example, instead of saying 'Why do you think that?', they might mistakenly say 'What do you think that?'.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. What ____ did he have for breakfast this morning?

2. Im not sure ____ to believe her story.

3. ____ did he decide to go to the beach?

4. ____ do I have to finish this assignment by tomorrow?

5. Could you please explain ____ you chose this colour?

6. ____ did you decide to take this route?

1. What

Explanation: This is the appropriate word to fill in the gap in the sentence as it inquires as to the specific item that he had for breakfast.

2. What

Explanation: This is the appropriate word to fill in the gap in the sentence as it inquires as to the evidence that she provided to back up her story.

3. Why

Explanation: This is the appropriate word to fill in the gap in the sentence as it inquires as to the reasoning behind his decision to go to the beach.

4. Why

Explanation: This is the appropriate word to fill in the gap in the sentence as it inquires as to the explanation for the requirement to finish the assignment by tomorrow.

5. Why

Explanation: This is the appropriate word to fill in the gap in the sentence as it inquires as to the explanation for the choose of colour.

6. Why

Explanation: This is the appropriate word to fill in the gap in the sentence as it inquires as to the reasoning behind his decision to take this route.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.