Difference Between How Come and Why

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 21, 2022


Difference Between How Come and Why Difference Between How Come and Why

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Interrogative sentences have a very important role in the English world. It is a part of everyday life. People use different types of words to ask questions about different things. To do so, they use different types of words. For example, why, what, where, how, when, etc are common wh-words used to ask questions.

How come and why are two interrogative words that people use in their everyday life to ask questions and answers. Though most of the time, the meaning of how come and why are almost the same. At some time, their definition changes according to the context of the sentence. However, they are always used to asking questions.

How Come Vs. Why

How come is an informal interrogative word that is used to enquire how something is going on in the process or how something is happening in the sentence. It is not considered formal and grammar doesn’t consider it correct. However, even it is largely in use, especially in informal language.

This word states the manner of the situation in which the person came into existence. It deals with the process of things. It is used to make a general inquiry, about the causes, or purposes of life. It has nothing to do with official or formal works.

How come is considered a word of second-level English used by children and new learners. Also, home come is quite light in expression. It expresses a curiosity to know about things. it doesn’t make the person standing in front feel that the other person has authority. It is a polite word of informal language.

However, ‘why’ is a formal interrogative word that demands reasons. It works based on questions and answers of reasons, causes, or purposes. It is considered as a formal alternative for how come. But in some context, the meaning of how come completely differ from the meaning of how come. It is an authoritative word that demands answers.

‘Why’ is a part of the traditional wh family. It is widely in use from the old English. It is considered a gentle yet authoritative type of question. It demands answers to the questions that involve answers to the reasons for something happening.

‘why’ is also used to give suggestions or agree with the suggestion given by some other person. ‘why’ is an interrogative word that always ends with a question mark.

Difference Between How Come and Why in Tabular Form

Table: How Come Vs. Why
Parameter of comparison
How come
Type of word
Original word
Type of sentence
It is a word to know about the process of the sentence
It is a word to know about the purpose of the sentence
Used as an interrogative word
Used as an interrogative as well as an adverb
Sentences cannot be inversed
Sentences can be inversed
Cannot be used in making suggestions
Can be used in making suggestions
Soft and polite
Authoritative and annoying

What Do You Mean by "How Come"?

How come is an interrogative used to know about the process of the sentence. It is an informal abbreviation of ‘how come it came to be that way?’. The context of the sentence makes a difference in the meaning of the word. In most places, how come is used as an informal alternative of why. In most cases, the meaning of the two words is also the same. But with the change in the context, the definition also changes.

How come is a kind of informal and casual language. It is a general conception that it is used by children and second-class English speakers. People learn the use of how come when they start learning the English language. So, it is a word for beginners.

The use of how come indicated presupposition. The person who is asking the question is already used to supposing something before asking the question. When they get the answer, they react as if they had no idea about it. they do not agree to believe and start looking at the other person in disbelief or accusatory tone of voice.

How come cannot be inverted. When it is used with the verb form “be”, it does not show any pattern of inversion of nouns and verbs. it is in contrast to ‘why’ that shows a pattern of inversion of nouns and pronouns.

How come focuses on the chronology of the work done by the sentence. It is a part of the manner of a situation that came into existence in the presence of mortal beings. They serve human beings. And, how come tells the process of the serving that is told in the form of a sentence.

How come is sometimes not considered grammatically correct. It does not follow the rule of the standard of interrogative sentences. It is not a sentence fitted in the structure of a sentence i.e., subject + verb + agreement. It is an abbreviation but the abbreviation is not grammatically accepted. It is a word developed for common English speaking. Its expanded form ‘how come it came to be that way?’ is considered grammatically correct and formal.

How come are kind and soft words. It never demands something. It may be used to show disbelief or accusation but, in most cases, it is used to ask a soft question, enquiring about the process of the sentence.

Some examples of how come are

  • How come you did this?
  • How come she went to the studio to get her photos published?
  • How come you didn’t complete your homework and came to the school?
  • How come she has to go to the doctor?
  • How come you decided to leave them home alone?
  • How come you went on a world tour?

What Do You Mean by "Why"?

‘why’ is an interrogative word that is used to enquire about the purpose of the sentence. It is a formal standard word that is a part of the traditional wh family. Since, a long time, why is used in the English language. From there, it managed to form a standard image. Today, it is used in all official works and all.

Unlike how come, why is not an abbreviation. Instead, it is an original word. Sometimes, how come and ‘why’ are used as an alternative for each other. But when the context changes, the meaning of the sentence also changes. Using how come and why for the same meaning becomes absurd in this case and it becomes difficult to find the meaning of the sentence.

‘why’ is universally accepted and grammatically correct. Like other members of wh family, what, where, when, etc it is also extensively used to raise questions. It does not have any other form that can ask for the purpose of the sentence.

‘why’ seek for the action, inquiry, causes, or purposes. It takes more interest in knowing the purpose of the sentence rather than the process of the sentence. The main purpose of questioning is to know about the purpose of the existence of human beings as well as their livelihood. The purpose helps to reduce any unwanted things from the sentence and helps to get a clear-cut answer.

The tone of why is enquiring. It is used to inquire about the tense. However, the way of inquiring about the sentence is authoritative in the use of why. When a why is read, it shows some kind of arrogance and authority. It does not ask the question rather it demands action in an authoritative form. For example, why do you want to drop your ear?’ in this sentence the speaker is showing some kind of authority to know the answer or he is telling that he shouldn’t drop his year.

‘why’ is a part of the standard question. It is a good option for the start of writing. An interrogative sentence is the most suitable option for the opening of the line. And, ‘why’ makes one of the most beautiful sentence openers. It is the first preference for starting the articles. For example, if the article is on health. Then, an enthusiastic line for its opening might be ‘why should we build our health?’

 Another feature of why is that it is not based on presumption. Unlike how come, the person who asks the question doesn’t find any presumption for the answer. The person is genuinely interested in the answer and doesn’t show any disbelief after getting the answer. However, the person might be quite authoritative in getting the answer to the question.

Why opens up the sentence with a kind of inquiry, authoritative and demanding in its tone. It might sound irritating to the person standing in front and he may ignore the question. For example, why are you late? In this sentence, the tone is authoritative and inquiring, and the person might feel better about ignoring the question.

‘why’ is used to make suggestions. If not giving suggestions, then if another person is giving suggestions, why can be used to agree with that person. For example, why don’t you try your hand at gambling? Here the person is suggesting to play gambling. This is an example of giving suggestions. And, the person may reply to this with why not? It is a simple method to answer back to the suggestion with an affirmation.

‘why’ is a better option for official and standard use only. however, it can be used as an adverb as well. In these sentences, the sentence is written in the reference to someone or something, and ‘why’ qualifies the sentence. However, even in these sentences, why denotes an interrogative sentence.

‘why’ is purely an interrogative sentence. It is never used in a sentence other than in an interrogative sense. When a sentence contains ‘why’ it is bound to be followed with a question mark.

Some examples of why are

  • Why are you looking up?
  • Why don’t you just go to the restroom and freshen up for the upcoming event?
  • Why do people always try to prove themselves better than others?
  • This is the reason why I do not want to talk to her?
  • Why we are supposed to do what we do not want to do?

Difference Between "How Come" and "Why" in Points

  • How come is a kind of abbreviation of ‘how come it came to be that way?’. How come is the short form of this sentence. However, ‘why’ is an original word.
  • How come sentences are informal. They are not used in official or standard language. However, ‘why’ is a part of the traditional interrogative words. It is considered a standard as well as a formal word.
  • How come is used when the person needs to know about the process of the sentence. However, why is used when the person wants to know the purpose of the sentence.
  • How come is used as an interrogative sentence only. but, ‘why’ can be used as an interrogative as well as an adverb.
  • How come is not used to make suggestions. However, ‘why’ is used to enquire as well as make a suggestion. It is also used to agree with the suggestion given by others. If someone makes a suggestion, then another person can show affirmation with the help of ‘why’.
  • how come is soft and polite when it is used with the sentence. However, why in a sentence look authoritative and annoying.


Interrogative sentences are the key to all the knowledge in the world. without questions, there are no answers. If there are no answers, then how people are supposed to know something. How come and why are two of the interrogative sentences. They are used in various ways, to enquire about the sentences, to know the process of the sentence, to know the purpose of the sentence, and many more.

However, how come is an informal abbreviation but ‘why’ is a formal standard word. How come is used to know about the process but why is used to know about the purpose. If both words are compared, why gets more weightage as compared to the how come.


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"Difference Between How Come and Why." Diffzy.com, 2023. Mon. 27 Mar. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-how-come-and-why-168>.

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