May I ask you this question meaning to emphasize the importance of studying literature? What has confused me is that the question, ironically, carries the same implication of, "Why study literature?"

I wont to use it exactly as is. The pronoun "you" is important:

And why not you study literature?

Is this an acceptable 'native' construct?

closed as too broad by tchrist, anongoodnurse, Roaring Fish, Janus Bahs Jacquet, Rory Alsop Dec 27 '13 at 11:27

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Hello, asef, and welcome to EL&U. You might want to visit our sister site, English Language Learners; you can find it here. It is very helpful in answering basic questions. – anongoodnurse Dec 27 '13 at 2:27
  • Are you trying to ask somebody why they in particular don't or won't study literature? Or are you trying to say that it's important for everyone to study literature? – The Photon Dec 27 '13 at 2:30
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    If you are an English language learner rather than a native speaker or serious linguist, you might find our sister-site for English Language Learners to be a rather better fit for your questions than the current site, given that our charter here at ELU reads: “English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.” – tchrist Dec 27 '13 at 5:22
  • Hi all. I am thrilled to have finally found a website where language users can engage in discussing the subtle nuances and curious details of the English language. I appreciate the prompt responses, the administrative management, and, above all, the serious commitment to the proper usage of English. While I am not a native speaker, I do consider myself a “serious linguist” based on my academic background which I’d rather not share for the sake of privacy. – asef Dec 27 '13 at 6:30
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    Why not edit your question, correct the typo, and include your thoughts? And if as you say you are a teacher, and a linguist, surely that phrase must sound off to your ears? – Mari-Lou A Dec 27 '13 at 6:58

"Why not you..." doesn't work as the "not" applies to "you" not "study literature".

Normally one might say "why not study literature" with the emphasis on the "not".

However, as you explicitly require the focus on "you", then a good working alternative would be

"Why don't you study..." or "Why won't you..."

Each has its specific merit - it depends upon whether one is focusing on why they DO not study, or why they WILL not study.

From what you have asked, I suspect "Why DON'T you study literature" would be the more appropriate version, as it is asking for the reasons that they do not currently study, as opposed to reasons why they may not study it in the future.

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