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Context: I'm walking with my friend, my friend sees something mean written on the wall for example, he says "Why would someone do this?.", how should I understand it? as:

1-" Why someone did this?."

2-" What motivated someone to do this?."

3-" Why would it occur to someone to do something like this?."

4-" What reasons someone had to do this?."

If none of the 4 sentences above is correct, please tell me what it means.

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  • It's an expression of incredulity. – Lawrence Aug 29 '17 at 23:55
  • Okey, and none of my sentences are close to it ? – WaitingTheAnswer Aug 29 '17 at 23:59
  • You're better off asking your friend what they meant. The naive (in the sense of unadorned, not in the sense of silly) reading is that they are simply requesting a reason, but the wording is idiomatic of incredulity. Unless your friend thought you might know the answer, it looks like a rhetorical exclamation/statement. – Lawrence Aug 30 '17 at 0:01
  • It's all hypothetical that's why I asked here to know the meaning in case.. – WaitingTheAnswer Aug 30 '17 at 0:09
  • The tone of voice should make it clearer whether they were asking a legitimate question or just expressing incredulity or dismay. – Barmar Aug 31 '17 at 19:18
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They are all plausible, but because of the context (the fact that it is an idiom and you were talking at the moment) I say it is the second one: 2-" What motivated someone to do this?. Which in turn really means " Why did someone do this?."

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They all seems like good explanations. Perhaps it should be written in the past tense 'why has someone done this', but the futures tense, as written, seems more common.

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