In the sentence "Why is this here?", is "why" an adverb? What part of speech is "why?" I think it modifies the verb "is", so I think it is an adverb.

  • 1
    What does a dictionary say? – Hot Licks Feb 12 '18 at 13:30
  • From Yahoo Answers: It is an adverb. That is, words like Why, what, when, how, etc describe how some activity (verb) was done; hence they are called Ad-verbs! – FumbleFingers Feb 12 '18 at 13:31
  • Yes, it's an adverb here, functioning as an adjunct (modifier) in clause structure. It questions cause (reason or purpose). and would typically elicit an answer like "Because it catches the drips". – BillJ Feb 12 '18 at 13:52
  • Sometimes, when "Why?" is by itself, it dreams of being an interjection. But that doesn't lessen its adverbiness. – Spencer Feb 12 '18 at 15:51
  • @Spencer -- Ahem... That's "adverbialness". – Hot Licks Feb 12 '18 at 18:14

Yes, it's an adverb. And in your case, it does modify the verb is. When used as an adverb, why has the meaning of for what reason or purpose. Semantically, it fits your example perfectly.


Point to consider: Parts of Speech in English are fluid and depend upon context and function in real language situations. "Why" is most often used as an Object of a verb, as in "She wondered WHY," (what she wondered), not as the verb's adverb, as in "Why did she wonder?"

But, just to mess things up a little more, consider this: "why" can inarguably replace a noun, a noun phrase, clause or more, so it can also therefore be used as a pronoun, ("She knew [what did she know?] -she knew why."]

What's worse for those old fossilized grammar school pedants is that "Why" can even be considered a relative pronoun, (perish the thought!). Quirk & Greenbaum: A University Grammar of English chapter 13, section 7 notes that 3 of those nasty "wh" pronouns can function as relative pros. For example, in the sentence, "The man walked to the place 'where' the shooting occurred," Where acts as a relative answering 'which' "place" – WHERE the shooting occurred"!


' why are you here ' - it reflects an exclamatory sense. Hence, 'why' should be an interjection.

  • 1
    'Why! They are here already!' shows the exclamatory usage, interchangeable with 'Oh my!' This is a totally different usage. – Edwin Ashworth May 20 '18 at 16:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.