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In Mandarin usually 为什么 is used to express "why". Sometimes 怎么 is also used to mean the same thing.

What makes them different? Most grammar books I beleive introduce 为什么, but I feel many Chinese use 怎么 on WeChat. Since 怎么 also means "what" or "how", sometimes I got stuck to understand what it means on a context.

Also, is there any other words to mean "why", except them and 为何 (which is the same as 为什么 but literary, right?) and 为啥...?

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    Also: 为啥 - but you probably knew that. – user3306356 Mar 9 '18 at 9:05
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    TV watchers often hear/see 干嘛 bkrs:I v. c What are you doing?; What's up? 你想干嘛? What are you up to? 你干嘛呢? What are you doing? II adv. o 1) why on earth; whatever for 你干嘛不去? Why don't you want to go? 2) totally; completely; all 你干嘛不去? Why don’t you want to go? 老李,你可是贵宾! - 干嘛别把我当人。also see 干么 干吗 抓子 – user6065 Mar 9 '18 at 14:47
  • @user3306356 Ah, I forgot. Added. – Blaszard Mar 11 '18 at 4:21
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  • 什么 = what

  • 怎= how

  • 怎么 = how / how is that (how come)

  • 为什么 = for what = why

  • 为什 is short form of 为什么

  • 为何 is the literary form of 为什么

  • 何故 or 何以 is the literary form of 什么原因 or 什么导致 (for what reason = why)

Examples:

"什么我不能去?" = "What? I can't go?" or "what (you mean) I can't go"

"怎么我不能去?" = "How is that I can't go?" or " how (come) I can't go?"

"为什么我不能去?" = "For what (reason) I can't go?" or " why I can't go"

Basically 为什么 (why) emphasizes the reason itself ; 怎么(how is that) emphasizes 'in what manner' or 'with what method' the cause exist

  • Thanks and should the position of these interrogatives be before the subject? – Blaszard Mar 11 '18 at 4:27
  • "怎么我不能去?" and "我怎么不能去?" are both correct; 为什么我不能去?" and " 我为什么不能去?" are both correct. in "什么我不能去?" the interrogative 什么 has to be before the subject 我; because 什么 is a proclamation roughly means "what you meant?" therefore must be placed at the beginning of the sentence – Tang Ho Mar 11 '18 at 5:29
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I think they use 怎么 means 'what happened', 'how come', not 'why', why is always '为什么', I don't know other words means '为什么'

  • Although I'd venture to say that how come and why are synonymous in English. – user3306356 Mar 9 '18 at 9:04
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因何 and 何以 was used more often in ancient Chinese, it evolved to 为何 in modern Chinese. 為甚麽(为甚么) was also used once in Hong Kong, 为啥 is also common in dialects currently. However, the official expression 为什么 is mainly used.

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