I watched a TV show this morning and a question was like "Why pass up the opportunity to go to prison?"

I'm stuck now, and I'd like to make sure if it is correct to say "why passing the opportunity to go to prison" or "why to pass the opportunity to go to prion".

Because I hear some one said "why the long face" so I think it would make sense to say "why passing" just like "why + noun".

  • But this is not why+noun. This is an irregular wh-question formed without a subject and auxiliary. The verb is used in the base form. It's used as directive. – user178049 Aug 12 '17 at 12:00
  • so it is only correct to use "why + verb ". for instance, why eat here?. why eating here and why to eat are wrong? thanks – Cry-lo Ren Aug 12 '17 at 12:06
  • It's not strictly true that only the base form is correct; in speech, people don't really care about that. However, "why+base form of verb" is a common and idiomatic expression. – user178049 Aug 12 '17 at 12:11

In the construction Why X?, X may be:

  • A nominal or adjectival describing something in the immediate situation . . . the construction has the sense "What is the cause of X?"

    Why the long face? =What is the cause of your long face?
    Why so cheerful? =Why are you so sad?

  • A 'bare' infinitival clause—that is, an infinitival unmarked with to . . . the construction has the sense "Why do you X?" or "Why would you X?", implying that there is a better alternative:

    Why wait? = Why would you wait (instead of doing it now)?

  • Any phrase or clause echoed from the immediately preceding proposition . . . the construction has the sense "Why do you say X?", implying that there is a better alternative or a more appropriate way of phrasing:

    A: I'm trying to finish this by tomorrow.
    B: Why tomorrow? It's not due until next week.

    A: He's obviously exaggerating.
    B: Why "exaggerating"? It's a flat-out lie.

So neither of your suggestions is idiomatic. Why passing the opportunity... would make sense only if your interlocutor had used the phrase "passing the opportunity" (which seems very unlikely), and Why to pass... employs a marked infinitival. Moreover, we don't pass an opportunity: we pass it up or pass on it. What you want to say is:

Why pass up the opportunity?

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