If I am writing an essay to explain why we should learn English, which of the following sentences is the best to be used as a title?

1. Why learn English

2. Why to learn English

3. Why learning English

  • None of these are questions, by the way. And @miltonaut is right about #1 being the only grammatical one. – John Lawler Dec 2 '14 at 16:02
  • I am writing an essay to explain why we should learn English. The bold part would make an excellent title (with a capital W in Why). – CJ Dennis Jan 11 '15 at 4:48

Discard 2 & 3 immediately, they're ungrammatical, but 1 has a snappiness, a headline feel to it… so long as you add the question mark.

It's a story leader, a headline, a rhetorical question to begin your essay/thesis/graduation speech...

"Why learn English? I'll tell you why. So you can…."

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  • 1
    +1 "Why learn English?" Okay, I got that it is rhetorical. But how would you parse it grammatically? Are these kinds of questions (without helping verbs) used in even in everyday English? (not necessarily regularly). If I want to know more about this stuff where should I look into? – learner Dec 2 '14 at 21:27
  • 2
    I'm no grammarian, but it's a frequently-used type of construction. It seems to have an implied 'would you' or 'should you' in it - Why would you learn English? Why [should you] go to school? – gone fishin' again. Dec 3 '14 at 7:11
  • link would be helpful, as typing 'why learn english' into OALD gives no results – gone fishin' again. Dec 3 '14 at 8:04
  • thefreedictionary.com/why – Khan Dec 3 '14 at 8:57

The most grammatically correct of the three is #1. Out of personal preference, I want to put a question mark at the end of it: Why learn English?

2 may not be wrong, but it sounds... off. My sleep-deprived brain made me think it was. I started coming up with alternatives, but then when I started typing them, I forgot them. I'll come back and add them later if I recall them.

3 looks incomplete: Why learning English ...is important. ...should be superseded by learning Mandarin. ...can't be accomplish overnight.

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I think all the three phrases are not grammatically correct to serve your purpose.

Why learn English? When you say so, it means that you are suggesting that it's not necessary to learn English.

Why to learn English? and Why learning English? These phrases are grammatically incorrect because of the use of to-infinitive and present participle after "why" or because of being incomplete.

If you want to suggest to do something, you can say "Why not learn English? or "Why don't you learn English"? We can also say "Why shouldn't we/you learn English?

All these sentences are used in a positive sense, encouraging people to learn English, whereas "Why learn English?" has a negative sense, discouraging people to learn English. (Pls refer to Oxford LD listed at 2 AE or BE and The Free Dictionary at 2).

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