I've always wondered why some people add a to after Why when framing a question. I have always wished to know this, but I keep forgetting to ask and today I came across a tweet that made me post this question here. The sentence that I came across on my twitter feed is:

Why To Treat Your Product Like It's Finished?

Isn't it more appropriate to ask:

Why Treat Your Product Like It's Finished?

I know that all the words in the sentence above have a capital letter in front because this was a title of a post. But that is not the point.

My question is: When do we need to use a preposition like to after a question word like Why? Are there any grammatical rules regarding this usage? If so, what are they?

Why To Treat Your Product Like It's Finished (Even Before It Is) http://t.co/eLiY1VBYDT

— Buffer (@buffer) June 4, 2014
  • 1
    Could you provide a link to the tweet? Or perhaps find another example? I've never seen this type of construction before, usually either an auxiliary verb is needed or the bare infinitive of the verb which immmediately follows why e.g "Why do you need to treat your product..." and "Why treat your product..."
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 4, 2014 at 8:53
  • Edited the question and included the tweet. If you click on the date, it'll take you to the tweet in Twitter. Jun 4, 2014 at 9:00

3 Answers 3


Both of these constructions can be considered to be elliptical forms:

Why To Treat Your Product Like It's Finished.

[The reason/s] why [you should choose] to treat your product like / [as if] it's finished.

(Note that the question mark would be non-standard for a non-direct question, as in this sentence fragment. Of course, you can justify the use of one by positing a missing [What are ...])

Why Treat Your Product Like It's Finished?

[What is the reason / are the reasons] why [you should] treat your product like it was / [as if it were] finished?

Elliptical forms often occur in a choice of flavours (and clarity).

  • Thank you very much for the detailed answer. Never knew the technical term Elliptical form. So I now understand the title of the article wasn't really a question and also understood where to can follow Why Jun 4, 2014 at 12:43

As far as I know, "why" can be followed by "infinitive without to". This structure suggests that an action is unnecessary. Example:

Why argue with him? He'll never change his mind (In this example, it's not correct to use "to infinitive" or "-ing form" after why).


Why To Treat Your Product Like It's Finished?

This is not actually a question. Here why is not functioning as an adverb, but a noun. In this sense it means something like the reason(s).

e.g. Let me tell you why you should learn French = Let me tell you the reasons you should learn French

As an article title: Why To Treat Your Product Like It's Finished = Reasons To Treat Your Product Like It's Finished

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