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  5. "Why doesn't he answer me?"

"Why doesn't he answer me?"

Translation:למה הוא לא עונֶה לי?

June 28, 2016



When do you use למה and when do you use מדוע or are they totally interchangeable?


lama(h) (למה) is teleological, you're inquiring as to the purpose of something, it is future-oriented. madou`a (מדוע) is aetiological, you're inquiring as to reasons/causes behind something, it is past-oriented.


So if I understand what you're saying, the questions, "?למה זה קורה" and "?מדוע זה קורה", both translate as, "Why is this happening?", right? And the nuance is that the former is asking, "What purpose does it serve that this happening?" and the latter is asking, "What events led up to this happening?". Not literal translations, of course, but am I in the ballpark?


Absolute, fantastic analysis!


This response (by GamalNemeri) makes sense, esp. since למה can mean "in order that." And as radasgast wrote, מדוע is more formal. You might use מדוע in a conference paper, for instance. In an article on interrogative particles in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (vol 2, pp. 316-18), Ruth Burstein refers to both as "interrogative adverbs of cause" and writes that מדוע has a "higher register," which is ironically an academic way of saying it's more formal; it tends to occur "in literature, in interviews on economics, and in textbooks" (p. 318). As GamalNemeri noted, so also Burstein says למה can be used to ask about purposes and aims.


Thanks for the answer but honestly this is like when you look up a word in the dictionary and they give you the same or a similar 10$ word as the definition...


So I look up aetiological. Definition : Of or relating to aetiology. Great, perfect explanation!


In german it is similar with the word "wofür" למה and "warum" מדוע


you could just to say that it´s more formal than lama. whats the proplem with people that like to make stuff complicated. omg


Their meaning is the same, but "מדוע" is more formal, so when you speak "למה" is your go-to word.


Maybe he's not interested, Karen. But it's okay there are plenty of fish in the sea


Why don't we say "למה הוא לא עונה עלי " please ?


Because that's not the preposition that goes with עונה. The word על usually means "on", it doesn't really fit here.

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