'Why Do Something' or 'Why Doing Something'? Which One Is Correct? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 5 March 2024)

Why Do Something or Why Doing Something: Which One Is Correct?

When we use why or why not at the beginning of an utterance and follow it with a verb, the verb should take the form of a bare infinitive (i.e. an infinitive without to) rather than a gerund:

Why go out for dinner when we can cook something at home?
❌ Why going out for dinner when we can cook something at home?

✅ Why pay more when you can find the same product for less?
Why paying more when you can find the same product for less?

✅ Why wait for the perfect moment when you can start now?
Why waiting for the perfect moment when you can start now?

Why not learn a new language if you love travelling so much?
Why not learning a new language if you love travelling so much?

The construction why doing something is possible, but it is typically part of a larger sentence structure and often comes after words like explain, discuss, understand, or ask, where it refers to the rationale behind an action. It is not used to directly introduce a question or suggestion as why do something is:

✅ Can you explain why doing it this way is better?

✅ The class will discuss why using renewable energy sources is crucial for environmental sustainability.

✅ I understand why taking regular breaks is important for maintaining concentration.

She asked why doing volunteer work was important to me during the interview.

Source: Practical English Usage

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Examples from the Media

'It's certainly cushy living at home,' says Steve Richards. 'I paid housekeeping, but all of my washing was done and there was food on the table. I had a comfortable lifestyle. If you're happy with that, it does beg the question: why move?' The answer is that there's never been a better time to do it. —Daily Mail (2009)

Why make Canadian content that appeals to so few in Canada? Toronto Star (2022)

With that in mind, though, there's another question worth asking is [sic]: Why? Why come to Sydney, to the NBL, when he had his toe in the door in the biggest league in the world? —The Sydney Morning Herald (2021)

But if you want to affect elections, and through them public policy, why give to the presidential candidates? —The Washington Post (2012)

Take the classic spaghetti Bolognese, for example. While it's usually associated with beef mince, why not give it a spin with canned lentils or add finely diced mushrooms for a delightful twist? Otago Daily Times (2023)


Choose the correct option to complete each sentence.

1. Why worry/worrying about things you can't control?

2. Can you explain why do/doing homework is beneficial for learning?

3. He couldn't understand why worry/worrying about things out of his control was worth his energy.

4. Why not take/taking a break if you're feeling overwhelmed with work?

5. The nutritionist is giving a talk on why do/doing meal prep can aid in healthier eating habits.

6. Why argue/arguing when you can discuss things calmly?

7. Why settle/settling for less when you can achieve so much more?

8. The athlete shared insights on why do/doing mental rehearsals before a competition can improve performance.

9. The financial adviser will clarify why invest/investing in a diverse portfolio is a wise decision.

10. Why give/giving up when you can try one more time?

11. Why make/making it more complicated than necessary?

12. Researchers are investigating why do/doing certain activities can boost brain function.

13. She explained why have/having a detailed plan is critical for the project's success.

14. He questioned why do/doing business ethically was not the company's top priority.

15. Why buy/buying a new car if the old one still runs well?

Answer Key

1. worry    2. doing    3. worrying    4. take    5. doing    6. argue    7. settle    8. doing     9. investing    10. give    11. make    12. doing    13. having    14. doing    15. buy

Real-World Examples of Misuse

The bare infinitive join should be used here.

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