On Twitter, a phrase in an advertising was mentioned as a mistake by a native English speaker.

Why, Subaru?

I think the advertising tries to say “Why don’t you choose Subaru?” However, this sentence seems to sound wired to some people. Some said the comma after why is unnecessary in their reply. However, it doesn’t make sense to me. Could somebody tell me how “Why, Subaru?” sounds like?

  • It sounds like 'Why, Subaru, did you make this bad car?'. To suggest a purchase we would usually say 'Why not Subaru?' – Michael Harvey Mar 3 at 15:15
  • Thank you for your reply. Let me clarify a bit. If we say ‘Why, somebody?”, it has the connotation that we are blaming him/her. Is it correct? – Learner-Koara Mar 3 at 15:17
  • "Why, somebody?" doesn't necessarily mean that you're blaming someone. It just means "Why did you do that, somebody?" The reason for asking could be blame, confusion, or just simple curiosity. It depends on context. – Canadian Yankee Mar 3 at 16:29

The comma makes it look like you are using direct address (or "vocative case"). Quoting from the site that I have linked:

When addressing a person or thing directly, the name used must be offset with a comma (or commas if it's mid-sentence).

So if Mary has done something and I want to know why, I could say,

Why, Mary? Why did you do that?

Note that the comma separates the name of the person who is being asked the question.

Therefore, if you write "Why, Subaru?" then it looks like you are addressing the company named Subaru and asking them why they did something. In the tweet you link, the writer says:

Why, SUBARU, couldn’t you pay a native English-speaking copywriter (or any native English speaker) to check your content before launch?

Here he is using direct address to ask Subaru a question.

If you want the meaning "Why should someone choose Subaru?" then you should not use a comma and just write "Why Subaru?" so that you are not putting it the form of direct address.

  • Your answer really help my understanding. Thank you so much. – Learner-Koara Mar 5 at 6:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.