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How do I ask why a person does not want a certain thing ?

If why don’t you is more like a suggestion, and why you don’t wanna…, as far as I know, is grammatically incorrect, what’s the correct way to say it? **Why won’t you want to… ** ??

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  • This question will probably be better on the ELL site. In any event, you're looking for what is called the negative interrogative. Please avoid wanna etc. around here. Why don't you want to [verb].
    – Lambie
    Jan 8 at 18:32
  • Go right ahead and write wanna; it's good English. But remember it means want to, not just want. You don't say *I wanna that one, please, so you shouldn't write it. Jan 8 at 22:57
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    "Why don't you" can be a suggestion, but it doesn't have to be! "Why don't you want to come out with me tonight?" is a question, not a suggestion. Jan 9 at 8:45
  • Question has now been duplicated on ELL. Jan 9 at 9:23
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    @aparente001 - It seems the two have been merged since my last comment. Jan 11 at 9:30

1 Answer 1

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Why don't you X and Why don't you want to X are completely different in meaning.

Examples

1.

A: I'm tired

B: Why don't you lie down and rest for a while?

A: Yes - good idea

In this case "Why don't you lie down" is a polite suggestion - it is an idiom, it is not a request for information. Instead of telling someone "Lie down and rest!", which would appear rude, we ask "Why not?"

2.

A: I'm tired but I don't want to lie down

B: Why don't you want to lie down?

A: Because lying down would make my headache worse.

In this case, "Why don't you want" is a request for information. You have told me that you don't want to lie down and now I am enquiring the reason.


Note - Please avoid using "wanna". It's okay in text messages and social media but it should never be used in any kind of formal English.

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