38. Why Questions : 왜

In this lesson, you will learn how make to make why questions with ‘why’ 왜.
Korean Why Questions img

왜 Questions

왜 means ‘why’. I think why question is most similar to English why among other all wh-interrogatives. But the nuance is slightly different even how it works is same. Thankfully it’s not used as an object. Well… English can use it as an object though… lol Korean is reverse.

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Why Questions with 하다 Verb

왜 imperative is normally placed before or after a subject. It uses all meanings of 하다 verb. However, you must add an ending 요 to say ‘why’ only : 왜요? with 해요 speech style.


Basic 해요 style Who Question
준 씨는 미쳤어요 준씨는 미쳤어요?
Jun is crazy Why is Jun crazy?


그거 먹고 있어요?
Why are you eating that?
= Verb


준씨는 캐나다에 왔어요?
Why did you come to Canada?
= Verb


준씨는 똑똑해요?
Why is Jun smart? (Because I am lol)
= Be + Adjective

Position of Imperatives

Korean imperatives can be placed anywhere before an ending in a sentence. I taught you positions aren’t much important in Korean grammar. It works same to almost everything.


준씨는 캐나다에 왔어요?
Why did you come to Canada?


준씨는 캐나다에 왔어요?
Why did you come to Canada?


준씨는 캐나다에 왔어요?
Why did you come to Canada?

Why Questions with 이다 Verb

왜 + 이다 questions use all functions that 이다 verb has. It’s not much different than why question with 하다 verb. I’m pretty sure that you are getting used to Korean wh-question by now.


Basic 해요 style Who Question
준씨는 미친 사람이에요 준씨는 미친 사람이에요?
Jun is a crazy person Why is Jun a crazy person?


준씨는 한국 사람이예요?
Why are you Korean?
= Be + Noun


저 사람은 이기적이예요?
Why is that person selfish?
= Be + Adjective


이거 끓여요?
Why are you boiling this?
= Verb

왜 Is Not Rude at All

Why questions can be rude in English sometimes but it’s perfectly okay in Korean. Asking why questions or answering why to someone don’t have any aggressive tone in Korean.


A: 준 선생님
Teacher Jun
J: 네, 왜요?
Yes, Why?

Why Questions with 있다 Verb

You use 있다 as ‘be’ for location and possession but 왜 있다 question is used usually for location. 왜 있다 for possession can sound a bit unnatural sometimes in conversations especially with 해요 speech style.


Basic 해요 style Who Question
준씨는 독방에 있어요 준씨는 독방에 있어요?
Jun is in a solitary Why is Jun in a solitary?


준씨는 거기 있어요?
Why are you there?
= Location


그건 학교에 있어요?
Why is it in a school?
= Location


핸드폰 있어요?
Why do you have a cellphone
= Possession


If you want to ask ‘Why do you have’ (possession), verb ‘가지다’ sounds very perfect. 가지다 means ‘have’ or ‘carry’.


핸드폰 가지고 있어요?
Why do you have a cellphone?
= Possession with 가지다 verb