What's the difference between these two questions:

Why they chose football?


Why did they choose football?


The first one is not grammatically correct, for a question; the second one is the correct form of that sentence.

You are right in pointing out that "W" questions require that auxiliary verb, 'did'. (or more generally, 'to do') to connect a "W" (or how) question to another subject.

In the examples below, the subject that 'to do' is connecting the "W" question to is surrounded by asterisks.

Who did *you* meet?
Why does *that* happen to this computer?
Where do *you* go when you leave the house?
How does *a magnet* work?
When did *the kids* come in?
  • 2
    "Wh-questions" includes the "how" question too. :) – Alenanno Aug 14 '11 at 10:47
  • 1
    How about in the form "I asked why they chose football?" – nickf Aug 14 '11 at 10:59
  • @nickf, that's "I asked why they chose football.", a; and, b, why there is a conjunction joining two clauses: the sentence is of the same form as "I fled because they chose football.". So the second clause has normal sentence word order and auxiliary verbs. (In a question, why is an adverb, FWIW.) – msh210 Aug 14 '11 at 16:59

The first sample, "why they chose football", is a noun phrase referring to their reason(s) for choosing football.

The second sample, "Why did they choose football?", is a question asking for their reason(s) for choosing football.

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