“Why Don’t You…?” (Not Really a Question)
(Closet Classics #4)
his “Closet Classic”
is was originally (and mistakenly)
posted on The Lexis Portal
, back when I really had no idea about how to organize all of the areas of GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!… So, it got buried. But I’m glad that I found it.
his post was originally taken from a spam message that I received on LinkedIn
, only one day after someone else had asked me about the use of the phrase
, “Why don’t you…?”
, when offering advice… (usually unsolicited… just like the message I received… Read On.)
(From The Original Post, circ. 2012)
just received this message on LinkedIn
this morning, and instead of just deleting it as a spam message, I thought it would provide a great opportunity for a quick lesson on English Usage
. Specifically about using this phrase
as a way of offering advice.
Copied Below Is The Message:
(Original Un-Solicited Message)
Why don’t you find qualified TEFL teachers from, and it is free.
sincerely (no name)
(It actually said “(no name)”) 😀
And My Response:
(Slightly edited from the original for your “Closet Classics” reading pleasure) 😉
Dear (no name),
I don’t understand your question.
First of all, your statement — which was obviously meant to be an advertisement for a website — is phrased in the form of a question, but without the proper punctuation. But in The Common Tongue of English, when you start a question with the phrase, “why don’t you…” it implies that we have had a previous conversation – which we haven’t. In this case, that would be one in which I had specifically asked you where I could find “qualified TEFL teachers”… which I haven’t.
Further-more — the expression: “why don’t you…” is usually used as a way of offering advice, rather than actually asking a question — which I think that you understood, but you still need to use a question mark at the end of the sentence.
Finally — unless someone has actually asked for the advice (which I haven’t), then it is almost always considered to be rude to give it.
Don’t worry… I was not offended by your attempt to phrase an advertisement into a piece of advise, because I can see that it is actually YOU who probably needs a “qualified TEFL teacher”… And I am always happy to help when I am able. 😀
So… In the spirit of your un-solicited advice — I will give you an un-solicited English lesson.
If you wanted to actually suggest an idea — especially if it is for the sake of trying to sell a product or service to someone — it might have been a good idea to actually say WHERE I could find this “qualified TEFL teacher” you mentioned. Then, the word “from” needs to be followed by whatever you are referring to: a website, a school, some dark alley where renegade English teachers like myself hang out, etc.. (I don’t really hang out in dark alleys… but I am in-deed a Renegade.) 😎
Here is an example of how you might have framed the “question”
“If you are looking for help with learning English, why don’t you check out www.not-a-real-website-address.con. There, you can find qualified TEFL teachers who can help you blah blah blah, and so-on, and so-forth…”
(Translation: “I am hoping that you will be interested in what I have to offer. If you are, I think it would be a good idea if you follow my advice to you.”)
So — Thank you for your un-solicited advice — but I am going to have to turn down your offer, because:
#1 — You never actually told me where I could find one of these mysterious TEFL teachers (and I highly doubt that they are actually “free”)
#2 — Because — as you would have discovered had you actually read my profile — I already AM “a qualified TEFL teacher”
But I appreciate you providing me with the opportunity to use your spam message as a chance to provide a quick English lesson to — not only yourself, but — anyone else who may have been wondering why we use the phrase, “Why don’t you…?” as advice, rather than a question… even though it is formed as one.
Claude J. Cote’
“Qualified TEFL Teacher”
P.S. That lesson actually was “free” 😉
— For any of you who think that I was being rude — don’t worry… as I said above — I edited it a bit for this post… because sarcasm and humor are fun… being politically correct is not only boring — but makes everyone in the world just a little more weak & pathetic…
But I promise, I was more polite to this spammer… who never even wrote back to thank me for the free lesson 🙁
When & Why We Use “Why Don’t You…?”
(Just to clarify…)
- “Why don’t you…?” – is not really used as a question, but is, in fact, used to offer a piece of advice.
- “Why don’t you…?”– should only be used in response to someone actually asking for advice… (it is very easy to offend someone by giving them advice that they did not ask for.)
You might consider using a completely different phrase. The reason for this is — even when the advice is asked for — using the phrase, “Why don’t you…?” can sound pompous & arrogant; as if the person is either dumb for not having thought of that already, or that the person is somehow already NOT choosing that option… literally by asking “why don’t you?”…
“I don’t know. I don’t have an answer to that question. What do you mean?”
Try, instead, to use a phrase like, “You might consider…” or “You could…” (as I did above). First of all — these are not questions, and they leave the final decision in the hands of the person who the advice is being given to. If that person does not want to take the advice that is offered (not demanded), then he or she is not made to feel guilty for not choosing to follow the advice — or made to feel stupid for not having thought of the option before.
Anonymous Fictional Student:
Q: “Hi Mr. Teacher! I want to learn English, but I think that traditional language courses and text-books are boring & stupid. How do you think I should go about learning English in a way that is actually fun, and will make me into a freakin’ genius?”
A: “Hello there Anonymous Fictional Student. Thanks for asking! Why don’t you check out www.GiveMeSomeEnglish.com? It is — by far — the coolest freakin’ English website in the Universe! And that is a scientifically quantifiable fact.” 😎
Anonymous Fictional Student:
Response: “Thanks for the great advice! I’m going to go there now, and maybe I’ll just stay there forever! You’re the greatest!!!” 😀
Concerned Supporter of English Education:
Q: “Hello Mr. Teacher. I noticed that you have a great bunch of websites here that make up the “The GiveMeSomeEnglish “Multi-Verse of Awesomeness!!!” . It must take a lot of work to put something like this together. How can I help to support your providing free English lessons that don’t suck?”
“Hello Concerned Supporter of English Education,
Thank you for your compliment and for your concern.
To answer your question, you could help out by making a one-time donation to GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!. To do this, simply tell everyone you know about the Awesome Website.
And, you might consider becoming a regular supporter by donating whatever you think is appropriate on a monthly basis through my Patreon account, here.
Whatever you give is incredibly appreciated and will help to keep the Awesomeness flowing like a fresh mountain stream that nurtures the entire valley below, and brings life to all who drink from its… well, you get the picture.” 😎
(Why Don’t You…)
Have An Excellent Day!