Last night when I had trouble with plugging the charger into my smartphone, suddenly I was curious about how can I grumble at it naturally in English. I could come up with these two ways.

A. Why can't I plug in it? B. Why isn't it plugged in?

B is far more natural in my mother tongue, but as far as I remember, I usually heard "Why can't I..." rather than "Why isn't it" in English. Could anyone suggest a more natural form and explain why it is, if possible?

  • 1
    Why it won't go in?! I think by using I you blame yourself for not being able to do it. By using won't you complain about the possible problem with the plug. – Yuri Oct 25 '17 at 7:42
  • In English, Why isn't it plugged in? is only a question about the current state of the smartphone, but it seems like you want to ask about why it is difficult, or why you're having trouble. – stangdon Oct 25 '17 at 11:29
  • @Yuri: Is that a typo for "Why won't it go in?". – rjpond Oct 25 '17 at 12:31
  • @rjpond Actually I didn't put it that way (why won't it go in?) because it would sound like 'relationship issues' :-) – Yuri Oct 26 '17 at 8:04

A. Why can't I plug it in?

This means that you can't physically plug it in, maybe because there is something in the way of the charger. This is the one you will use in your context, because you are talking about the inability to do something.

B. Why isn't it plugged in?

This just means that you don't know why it isn't plugged in - maybe you thought it had been, and just discovered it wasn't. It is correct, but not in the context.

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