How Come vs Why: Difference and Comparison

People communicate by asking a series of questions and answering them the same. These questions are asked in the form of wh formed word questions.

Key Takeaways

  1. “How come” is used informally, while “why” is used in formal and informal contexts.
  2. “How come” is used to ask a question about something surprising or unexpected, while “why” is used to ask for the reason or cause of something.
  3. “How come” is more colloquial and is used mostly in spoken English, while “why” is more formal and can be used in both spoken and written English.

How Come vs. Why

“How” is an adverb that is used to ask about the manner, method, or process by which something is done or accomplished. It can also be used to ask about the condition, quality, or extent of something. “Why” is an adverb that is used to ask about the reason, purpose, or cause of something. It can also be used to express surprise or disbelief.

How Come vs Why

The word ‘how come’ is used when someone wants to know how some circumstance had occurred in a sentence. This word is used as an interrogative form in a sentence.

The word ‘why’ is used in a sentence to know why something occurred to someone or something at a particular time by a person.

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Language Quiz

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Choose the word that means the same as "to misplace":

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Fill in the blank. “Bad weather can ________ people’s ability to work.”

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What is the term for a word that is spelled and pronounced the same way but has a different meaning?

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Choose the correct word: I think it's time to take a __________ from work.

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What is the term used to describe a language that has evolved from a common ancestor?

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What is the term used to describe the way words are put together to form sentences?

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHow ComeWhy
MeaningThe word ‘how come’ is used in a sentence to know how something happened.The word ‘why’ is used in a sentence to know the purpose of something that happened.
UsageThe word ‘How come’ can only be used in an Interrogative way.The word ‘why’ can be used as an interrogative word as well as an adverb.
InversionInversion of a sentence’s subject and verb does not occur when the word ‘how come’ is used.Inversion of subject and verb does occur when the word ‘why’ is used in a Sentence.
Type of communicationThe word ‘how come’ is often used in informal communication.The word ‘why’ is commonly used informal communication.
UseThe word ‘how come’ cannot be used in accenting or making suggestions.The word ‘why’ can be used in accepting or making suggestions.

What is How Come?

The word ‘how come’ is used when someone wants to know how some circumstance had occurred in a sentence. This word is used as an interrogative form in a sentence.

This word is observed to be used in informal communication. There is no need to invert the subject and the verb in a sentence where the word ‘how come’ is used.

Following are some examples where the word ‘How Come’ is used in a sentence-

  1. How come you are late today?
  2. How come they didn’t attend the party yesterday?
  3. How come she left the part that day?
  4. Why were you at the same place where the incident occurred that day?

What is Why?

The word ‘why’ is used in a sentence to know why something occurred to someone or something at a particular time by a person. This word can also be used as an adverb in a sentence referencing something or someone.

This word may also be used in a sentence to express a feeling of arrogance or annoyance to someone in particular circumstances. Sometimes, this word is also used for making suggestions or agreeing with someone else’s recommendations in a sentence.

Following are some examples where the word ‘Why’ is used in a sentence-

  1. Why can’t you sit down quietly?
  2. Why can’t we take this route while traveling?
  3. Why is there so much fog ahead?
  4. Why is this class so dull?
  5. This is why I hate her.
why

Main Differences Between How Come and Why

  1. The word ‘how come’ is often used in informal communication; however, the word ‘why’ is commonly used in everyday communication.
  2. The word ‘how come’ cannot be used in accenting or making suggestions; on the other hand, the word ‘why’ can be used to accept or make suggestions.
References
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01621459.1955.10501299
  2. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ444312

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