I've learned that this expression is more like to persuade someone than asking the reasons

I want to make sure of what i'm thinking

When i say

  1. Why don't you take that class?

Is more like persuading and listener wouldn't say the reason

So If i wan't to know the reason, should i say

  1. Why you don't take that class?

Can i use the first sentence(number one) just to know the reason?

But when it comes to past tense, would it definitely be an interrogative sentence?

  1. Why didn't you take that class?


  1. Why you didn't take that class?

Both are expected that listener would say the reason

  • 1
    It is toilsome to read texts where I is written as i. The small letter tends to vanish and you should not use this chat room habit outside chat rooms as you are judged as someone who has not learnt how to write properly.
    – rogermue
    Jun 16, 2015 at 23:40

2 Answers 2


[No 2. are both bad grammar. Do not use either of these.]

Persuasion can only be done before someone has decided.

"Why don't you take that class?" This is often used to encourage someone to do something. It is more polite than telling them to do something. They will respond as if it was a suggestion: "That's a good idea".

Questioning can only be done after someone has decided. So they can respond as if it was a question. To make it clearer that it is a question you can ask "Why don't you want to take that class?" or "Why can't you take that class?"

If it is possible to change their minds then it is both a question and persuasion. If they don't like their decisions being questioned they will respond "Because I don't want to".

If it is too late then it can not possibly be a persuasion. It has to be a question by elimination.

When a question is equivalent to an imperative it is just as rude. Do not ask "Why don't you go to hell?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOflpNvy_30&t=0m23s


You are correct that "Why don't you" usually implies that the person should do something.

If you want to know the reason they aren't, you would use the present progressive: "Why aren't you verb+ing...". Ex, "Why aren't you going to the concert?"

For the past tense, the verb "to do" is working differently. Here it is the auxiliary verb that is necessary for asking a question in the past tense.

Only option #1 (Why didn't you) is correct. #2's word order is not. When forming a sentence with question words (who, what, why), the question word must be followed by the auxiliary did

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