I think this statement can be interpreted in two ways:

What did you dress up as for Halloween? (What costume did you wear for Halloween?)

Why did you dress up as for Halloween? (Why did you dress up as if it was Halloween?)

If I'm right, is "what" and "why" enough to remove the ambiguity? Or maybe using "like" would be better to remove the ambiguity? (e.g. Why did you dress up like for Halloween?)

  • I suggest the difference here is as basic as the difference between What did he ask? and Why did he ask?. If it belongs anywhere, this should be on English Language Learners Oct 6, 2015 at 15:32
  • There's no ambiguity between What and Why. The difficulty comes from the odd construction with why: using as if in that sentence would be more idiomatic. Without the if, one's first thought is that the Why should be What because that's the normal question-word with that construction. If there is an ambiguity, it's because of that.
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 6, 2015 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


If you really want to maintain that second sentence try a comma:

Why did you dress up, as for Halloween?

A clearer approach would be

Why did you wear your Halloween costume?

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