# Thread: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

1. ## What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Hi teachers,
This is the statement, 'It was winter and the weather was cold, so there were not many people in the fields'.
This a possible question, if I'm not mistaken, 'Why there were not many people in the fields?
If yes, why the order is 'there were not'?

The usual order without 'not' is, Why were there ...?

2. Moderator
Join Date
Jun 2010
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11,594

## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Only 'Why were there not many people. . .?' is correct.

Rover

3. ## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Originally Posted by Rover_KE
Only 'Why were there not many people. . .?' is correct.

Rover
Hi Rover,

Best,
L54

4. ## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Originally Posted by learning54
Hi Rover,

Best,
L54
Sorry one more question, Why don't we use 'not' immediately after 'were'?

5. Senior Member
Join Date
Jan 2012
Posts
902

## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

I know that this is correct:

Why weren't there many people. . .?

but this sounds odd:

Why were not there many people. . .?

but I'll let a teacher explain why. (Although my guess is that it is grammatically correct, but just "not something we say".)

6. ## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Bob beat me to it but it's true that you would expect "Why weren't there ...?" to convert in the long version to "Why were not there ...?" but it just doesn't.

7. ## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Originally Posted by BobSmith
I know that this is correct:

Why weren't there many people. . .?

but this sounds odd:

Why were not there many people. . .?

but I'll let a teacher explain why. (Although my guess is that it is grammatically correct, but just "not something we say".)
Hi,
Thank you for your reply. It is one of those things that can't be explained.

Best,
L54

8. ## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Originally Posted by learning54
Hi Rover,

Best,
L54
Your 'mistake' may just have resulted from a confusion between direct and indirect speech:

'Why were there not many people there?'

But:

He wondered why there were not many people there. [Note: NO question mark; it's a statement - he wondered.]

b

9. ## Re: What is the reason for this order 'Why there were not ...?

Hi BobK,
Thank you for your comment and interest, but it wasn't because of it. I just thought it was the natural order for a question; 'not' after the verb.

Best,
L54

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