I came across the sentence "Why + noun phrase?".
This construction is not quite clear to me because it doesn't have a verb.

(1a) Why the hurry?
What is the full version of (1a)? (I mean, without ellipsis)

my variant:
(1b) Why is the hurry?
What is the difference between (1a) and (1b)?

my own example, № (2):
A: Buy some food and beer.
B: Why beer? I don't drink alcohol.

Am I using "Why + NP?" correctly here? If not, then why not?
Am I right that "Why beer?" means "Why would I buy some beer?" ?

Can we also use "Why + adjective phrase?" ?

my own example, № (3):
A: This book is interesting.
B: Why interesting?

Is (3) correct? If not, then why not?
Am I right that "Why interesting?" means "Why is this book interesting?" ?

Can we also use "Why + adverb phrase?" ?

my own example, № (4):
A: We need to drive fast.
B: Why fast?
A: To be there in time.

Is (4) correct? If not, then why not?
Am I right that "Why fast?" means "Why do we need to drive fast?" ?

  • I don't think Why the hurry? is an ellipsis; it just uses why to mean what is the reason for...? Sep 28, 2023 at 11:44
  • You can equally say "What beer?" or "How fast?" or "How interesting?" Whether that counts as ellipsis or not, I'm not sure.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 28, 2023 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


Your examples 2–4 are fine. Your 1b simply doesn’t work. A fragment Why is the X? begs to be completed: Why is the X Y? as in Why is the door open?

  • We can do only a metalinguistic question with "interesting": Teacher: "Students, I want your essays to be about something interesting!" Johnny Nogoodnik: "Why 'interesting'? I would prefer to bore you to death, you old fart." Sep 28, 2023 at 18:09

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