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.

  • It's an expression of incredulity.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 23:55
  • Okey, and none of my sentences are close to it ?
    – WaitingTheAnswer
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 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
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 0:01
  • It's all hypothetical that's why I asked here to know the meaning in case..
    – WaitingTheAnswer
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 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
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


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?."


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.

You must log in to answer this question.