Suppose some boys are playing football in the field. While going to the market, I see my brother standing beside the field and watching them playing. So at this moment,

  1. what am I supposed to ask my brother?

a. Why don't you play?

b. Why are you not playing?


  1. Do the examples above carry the same meaning and can be used interchangeably?


  1. If not carrying the same meaning, then in which situations could I use them?

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  • 2
    What research have you done? – AmE speaker Jul 1 '17 at 19:08
  • b. is wrong - it should be "why are you not playing?". But "why aren't you playing?" is normal. – Simon B Jul 1 '17 at 20:14
  • 1
    They don't carry the same meaning. (b) means 'You're not joining in – why not?' whereas (a) means 'Why don't you join in?' (a rhetorical question) – Edwin Ashworth Jul 1 '17 at 21:07

Why don't you play? seems to be your encouragement that he join in while Why are you not playing? is more of a pure question to which you would expect an answer.



"Why are you not playing"

They are both accurate for what you want to say

  • 1
    Hello, John. Welcome to English Language & Usage. But I must quote @Sven Yargs: 'Your answer seems to be heavily weighted toward personal opinion as opposed to objective analysis—but this site especially prizes answers that have an identifiable basis in verifiable fact rather than just opinion. Please consider strengthening your answer by citing some independent authority that draws the same general conclusion that you do with regard to [both usages]. Thanks! ' – Edwin Ashworth Jul 1 '17 at 21:05

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