1

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 '19 at 5:29
  • Can you think of any everyday question that uses "can" in its affirmative form? – Tasneem ZH Apr 10 '19 at 5:58
3

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.

Explicit:

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

Implicit:

  • "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?"

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  • 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. – Tasneem ZH Apr 10 '19 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 '19 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. – Tasneem ZH Apr 10 '19 at 8:17

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