The following quote is from the Inception movie:

I'm not gonna throw away my inheritance. Why would I?

What the last question could mean here?

  • 2
    Read it as: I'm not gonna throw away my inheritance. Why would I throw away my inheritance? What would I benefit by that? Nothing. Dec 9 '14 at 20:03
  • @Tetsujin So we can use such a phrase to express that it would be unusual for me to act that way in that circumstances, can we? For instance, someone asks me if I'm gonna get a new job. Could I answer No, why would I? Would it be common? Dec 9 '14 at 20:33
  • "What is to be gained thereby?" Dec 9 '14 at 20:50
  • 1
    @DmitryFucintv That usage (No, I am not going to get a new job. Why would I.) is very common, and would be understood to mean That's such a silly idea, and I haven't even considered it
    – Adam
    Dec 9 '14 at 21:33

The first thing we can do to clarify this is to replace "gonna" with the less informal "going to". If we also expand the contraction, the first sentence becomes:

I am not going to throw away my inheritance.

This seems like a reasonable position. To throw away something of value would be wasteful. Someone earlier in the conversation must have wanted them to throw away their inheritance.

The second sentence omits "throw away my inheritance" because the subject is assumed to be clear through context and to avoid awkward repetition of the phrase:

Why would I [throw away my inheritance]?

Both "gonna" and "Why would I" are common informal language. "Why would I?" is commonly used in response to a request to take a distasteful or unpleasant action, with the implication that there cannot possibly be a good enough reason.

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