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How come & why

 

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  #1  
Old May 10, 2006, 08:12 AM
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How come & why

I had someone (a Spanish-speaker) ask me the difference between "how come" and "why". I basically told her that they are interchangeable, but can any of you think of any differences? Or, better yet, if you've studied English as a Second Language, did they teach you any rule about this?
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  #2  
Old May 10, 2006, 09:44 AM
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Re: How come & why

I'd say like how come is more regional or non-standard and why is more standard. I think that's the only difference, but I'm no linguist.
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Old May 15, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Re: How come & why

i think people are more likely to say how come when someone has chosen something different to what they would have, e.g. 'how come you bought a small car?' might imply the speaker would have preferred a big one whereas 'why did you buy a small car' leaves the speakers position a bit more vague.

Just a thought, not sure if it's correct though.
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Old May 15, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Re: How come & why

Quote:
Originally Posted by pogo
i think people are more likely to say how come when someone has chosen something different to what they would have, e.g. 'how come you bought a small car?' might imply the speaker would have preferred a big one whereas 'why did you buy a small car' leaves the speakers position a bit more vague.

Just a thought, not sure if it's correct though.
Welcome to the forums pogo, and thanks for the opinion.
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Old May 15, 2006, 09:44 AM
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Re: How come & why

thanks, this is a great website btw. If the forums grow then i think they'll become really useful.
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Old May 15, 2006, 11:14 AM
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Re: How come & why

Quote:
Originally Posted by pogo
thanks, this is a great website btw. If the forums grow then i think they'll become really useful.
Thanks pogo. I'm hoping the forums will grow. They've only been open for 2 weeks
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Old May 24, 2006, 04:09 PM
LauraPandora LauraPandora is offline
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Re: How come & why

The difference between "how come" and "why" I think is that "how come" seems more conversational than "why." I also agree that "how come" often implies that there is some doubt. Like when you ask a question beginning with "how come..." the implied rest of the sentence is "instead of..."

But they're not interchangeable grammatically. In fact, I can't think of a sentence beginning with "why" that you could replace with "how come" without switching other words around.

"How come you didn't see the movie with them?"

"Why didn't you see the movie with them?"

or

"Why did you go to Peru?"

"How come you went to Peru?"
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  #8  
Old May 25, 2006, 08:39 AM
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Re: How come & why

Thanks Laura, they're subtle differences, but there are differences
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