I was reading an article online. (It was not by a native english speaker)

The person in the article was wondering why the referred person didn't kill her, why he spared her, when he had killed so many people.

Shouldn't it be "Why did he spare me?", "Why didn't he kill me?", "Why did he let me live?" or maybe "Why did he leave me alive?" (Does this one sound fine)

But does "Why did he leave me?" work? Doesn't it sound like "Why did he walk out on me?" and not "Why didn't he kill me?" (And this is what the sentence meant, it said "Why did he leave me? Why didn't he kill me too?)

  • 1
    If the writer is not a native speaker and has evidently been through a traumatic experience, it seems rather unkind to criticise her use of English! Mar 30, 2020 at 8:46

2 Answers 2


Context matters.

Leave can mean "walk out on" but you provide context in which it is clear that the man was not her husband or boyfriend, and she is not talking about a divorce or separation. So leave doesn't mean "walk out".

Leave can also mean "not choose"

I left all the red sweets because I don't like strawberry creme.

And (in a rather grim way) it is clear that this is what the gunman did. He chose not to shoot the woman, which is why she wonders "why did he leave me".

Why did he spare me? Why didn't he kill me? Why did he let me live? These are all ways of asking a similar question, in context.


Yeah, it works, but it's clunky.

The intended meaning can be inferred, but it's poor writing.

Much better to say "Why did he spare me" or "Why did he let me live" etc.

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