If I said:

It can be insecure since it has two possible ways of getting forged.

Then, would it be possible to ask the question like this:

Why can it be insecure?

I find it unnatural and maybe incorrect too. So I have searched if "can" can come in Wh-questions, and the answer was that it can with (What, When, and Where). I'm not totally sure if they have stated those as examples or as the only possible cases.

  • Here is the link of the article.

I can think of other wordings of the question in which they will convey the same meaning of the original one:

1) Why is it possible to be insecure?

2) What is the reason behind its possibility of being insecure?

But I want to know if that exact structure is correct or not.

  • I don't think there is anything wrong with using "can" with "why". People use it in everyday life, e.g "Why can't you stay?". I don't think any other style of sentence would replace it and deliver the exact same meaning too.
    – Bella Swan
    Apr 10, 2019 at 5:29
  • Can you think of any everyday question that uses "can" in its affirmative form? Apr 10, 2019 at 5:58

1 Answer 1


It's perfectly acceptable to use "Why can..." though it's more common to hear "Why can't..."

Often "Why can" is used in comparisons, whether explicit or implicit.


  • "Why can my sister reach the top shelf, but I can't?"
  • "Why can a cheetah run faster than a leopard?"


  • "Why can some people wiggle their ears?" (implied: but others can't)

The negative version is quite frequent, and often doesn't include a comparison.

  • "Why can't penguins fly?"
  • "Why can't people put down their phones these days?"
  • "Why can't I lose weight?"

In all these examples, "why" could be replaced with "What's the reason [subject] can/can't ..."

In your specific example, though, I agree that "Why can it be insecure?" sounds a little odd, maybe because it doesn't have a comparison in it. I would expect either "Why could it be insecure?" or "Why would it be insecure?"

  • Thanks a lot! Could you add the exact meaning of ...could it be insecure and ...would it be insecure? I think they have a slightly different meaning that I need to get a hold of in order to have a full understanding of how and when to use each one of them. Apr 10, 2019 at 7:36
  • @TasneemZH In statements, could and would have a sharper difference than they do in a question like this, where both are used to refer to conditionals. In this question, would is asking under what conditions it might be insecure and could is asking what conditions/possibilities might make it insecure. Here's a link to a pretty good post about would vs could: writingexplained.org/could-vs-would-difference
    – Katy
    Apr 10, 2019 at 7:51
  • Great post indeed, and clear explanation. I used "add" so you add their meaning in your answer. It's related and would be more visible for others, but this is only my point of view. Thanks again. Apr 10, 2019 at 8:17

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