I've just seen the sentence below in my grammar book:

You still have a lot of paint, so why not paint the bedroom too?

and I thought it should have been:

"You still have a lot of paint, so why don't you paint the bedroom too?"

Am I wrong?

  • Your sentence is not wrong, but neither is the sentence from your grammar book.
    – J.R.
    Jul 20 '18 at 19:22

We use 'why not' followed by the base (infinitive) form of a verb (without 'to') to make a suggestion: [You have paint left] why not paint the bedroom? [your car is being repaired] why not borrow Jim's car? [You are bored] why not read a book?

We use 'why' followed by the base form of a verb to suggest that an action is unnecessary or pointless: Why walk when you can ride in a bus? Why eat hamburger when you can have steak? Why complain when nothing will be done?

Why and why not


Both sentences are fine and mean the same thing. Example:

Why not go see a movie tonight?

Why don't we go see a movie tonight?

Note with "why not" you don't have to specify the subject. I might suggest, "Why not paint the bedroom?" because I don't want to help you, but I want to avoid explicitly saying that you will be the one doing the work.

A: Since you're already cleaning the kitchen, why not make dinner?
B: You mean, we will make dinner together?
A: No, I mean you should make us dinner. I'm going to take a nap. Wake me when it's ready?

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