This question already has an answer here:

A BBC reporter, Melissa Hogenboom, talks about her father in this BBC article "The part of my dad that dementia can't take":

My dad does not fall into any of the risk categories for dementia. There is no family history of it. He’s always been slim, healthy and active. This is part of why the disease is so devastating – it can affect anyone and we still do not understand why.

Is this 'why' a fused relative word or an interrogative word?


This question does NOT have an answer in the earlier question fused relatives versus interrogatives.

There, the answer by John Lawler cites, and is solely based on, Haj Ross's paper "Conjunctive and Disjunctive Wh-clauses."

The paper, however, is irrelevant in that both conjunctive and disjunctive wh-clauses are interrogative clauses.

In fact, more than a month ago, I posted a comment to John Lawler's answer and asked about his opinion on the alleged misquoting of the paper and the writing up of an answer based on the misquoted paper. But unfortunately, I have not heard from him ever since.

So, whoever cited John Lawler's answer there as an answer to my question should go to that earlier question/answer and "read" the answer, the paper, and my comment there, although I think they should have done all that before marking this question as a "duplicate," whatever that means.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, John Lawler, J. Taylor, JonMark Perry, Skooba Jun 13 '18 at 12:23

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • "Why" is not used as a fused relative word, but only as an interrogative. See GCEL p1072. – BillJ Jun 7 '18 at 9:54
  • There's no fused relative here. Why get worried? – Kris Jun 7 '18 at 11:58
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    @JohnLawler As has been made abundantly clear in my comment to your answer citing Ross's paper, to which you have yet to reply, Ross's paper is not one bit about "fused relatives" or even "relatives". The paper doesn't even mention one word of "fused" or "relative", much less "fused relative". The paper is about distinguishing two types of "questions". Please read my comment first and answer to it there. I'm afraid the only answer that's got 6 votes there is not even about the call of the question. – JK2 Jun 8 '18 at 0:48
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    @JohnLawler To answer the OP's specific question -- Fused relatives do not allow "why": *Why he did it is invalid ("the reason why ...") is ungrammatical, whereas "why" is allowed in interrogatives (I don't know why he did it) including governed exhaustive conditionals (No matter why she was late, they won't forgive her). – BillJ Jun 8 '18 at 5:52
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    In addition to the unacceptability of *"Why he did it is unclear", fused relatives with "who" suffer the same fate: *"Who steals my purse steals trash", and *"Who wrote this letter must have been mad" are both ungrammatical in Present-day English. – BillJ Jun 8 '18 at 8:51