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Of course, I understand that the nature of the Internet means that a given person is not necessarily fluent in the English Language. But what I don't understand is how people can mangle a simple question.

How do I go from X to Y?

As questions go, this kind of question is quite an important one to be able to ask. And yet, more often than not, I see this instead:

How to go from X to Y

It looks more like a heading that's about to be followed by an explanation, not a question.

The strange thing is, though, is that so many people make this error. It's not like other mistakes that vary from person to person based on their own knowledge, it's like an epidemic: Either the person knows how to ask the question in its proper form, or they use the exact erroneous form shown here.

One thing I've noticed is that often a person will try to directly use their own language's sentence structure when speaking/writing in a foreign language. But in all the languages I know, none of them have this kind of sentence structure.

Where does this malformation come from?

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closed as not constructive by JeffSahol, J.R., Marthaª, aedia λ, jwpat7 Jun 15 '12 at 4:28

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The particular instance you gave is possibly due to the person subbing in the infinitive form of the verb "to go" since he was not sure of the right tense to use. But otherwise, there are too many variables to answer the broader question, if it was in fact not just a rhetorical question. –  JeffSahol Jun 14 '12 at 18:00
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It's not a good idea to speak of 'butchering' in a linguistic context. Apart from anything else, it's a cliché. –  Barrie England Jun 14 '12 at 18:35
    
Another view of this practice: english.stackexchange.com/q/14396/8019 –  TimLymington Jun 14 '12 at 20:30
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2 Answers 2

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I can imagine circumstances in which I, a fairly well educated native speaker of British English, might ask 'What to do?' or 'Where to go?' The form may be the result of the influence of the languages of the Indian sub-continent.

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Ah, now that's a very good point. I've definitely seen and used those forms before, but I never noticed the similarity. –  Niet the Dark Absol Jun 14 '12 at 18:35
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How do I go from X to Y?

is a question.

How to go from X to Y

is the title of such a question, so you will often see this form used in titles on this site. It is not an error but simply one of the styles used for titles. It may be seen as a fragment of

Show me how to go from X to Y.

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Hmm... I was more referring to just used normally, where you would expect an actual question, rather than as a title. The fragment makes sense as an origin, though. –  Niet the Dark Absol Jun 14 '12 at 18:22
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