I want to know the difference between these expressions

  1. Why would he go
  2. Why did he go

When "would" is used and "did"?


If you know that he did go (to some place X) then you could use either expression to ask the same question. The second version ("Why did he go?") is possibly stronger sounding because it confirms that he did go to X.

If you do not know whether or not he did go to X, then you would use the "Why would he go?" question to ask the reason he might have wanted to go to X, without actually saying that he did go to X. You could also use this version of the question if you knew he went to X, but do not want to admit to knowing this.

  • For the first case (knowing he went), the first question is generally neutral (you are just asking for the reason, although this can change depending on tone of voice), but the second generally implies that you think he should not have gone, and you want to know why he did. – SteveES Jun 2 '17 at 10:17
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    @SteveES the question with "would" implies, if he did go, that you think he shouldn't have. also, the "would" question makes sense in a context where he didn't go, but the person you're talking seems to think he did or seems to have expected him to go. "why did he go?" only makes sense in a context where he is known to have gone and doesn't suggest any expectations about whether he should or shouldn't have gone. – A.Ellett Jun 2 '17 at 14:55
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    @A.Ellett I thought that was what I said, but re-reading my comment I realised that I put "first question" when I meant "second question". Oops (and thanks for pointing that out)! – SteveES Jun 2 '17 at 14:59
  • you're welcome by all means – A.Ellett Jun 2 '17 at 16:24

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