Question

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A question is what someone asks, usually when there is something that he or she does not know. In writing, a question mark ("?") comes at the end of a question. However, just because a question is asked does not mean there is an answer.

Paul Gaugin's Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Why do we need to study the past

Examples of these questions[change | change source]

People may give a short answer. People may give a long answer. It depends on the question.

  • "Guess what?"
  • Who
  • "Can I help you?"
  • "Do you speak English?"
  • "Is this your bag?"
  • "What time is it?"
  • "Where are you from?"
  • "Why are you doing that?"
  • "Who do you want to see?"
  • "When will tea be ready?"
  • "What did you say?"
  • "How old are you?"
  • "What time is the football game?"
  • "Why do you look so funny?"
  • "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
  • "Where can I find the nearest subway station?"
  • "Why do you allow people to change an online encyclopedia?"

Types[change | change source]

Different kinds of why questions need different kinds of answers. A question like "Why did you do that?" clearly asks for an explanation. What that explanation might be depends on context. This kind of explanation is not right or wrong: it all depends on circumstance. The question and answer may also have to do with "who", "what", "when" and "where".

There are types or forms of explanations,[1] including:

  • explanations which are based on a principle or theory.[2]
Who should I listen to? Answer: Mother knows best.
  • explanations which rely on a model or pattern.
Where does this part go? Answer: The pocket is on the left side of the shirt.
When did you do that? Answer: I ran away after the dog barked.
Why are you doing that? Answer: Because I'm going to build a boat.

Many kinds of explanations are made up of more than one type.

An explanation can be valid or invalid or a combination of both. Some explanations may appear reasonable, but they turn out to be misleading or wrong.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Keil, Frank C. and Wilson, Robert Andrew. 2000. Explanation and cognition. p6
  2. 2.0 2.1 Elman, Colin. (2001). Bridges and boundaries: historians, political scientists, and the study of international relations, p. 71 "It is often said that a key difference between historians and political scientists is that historians tend to construct narrative-based explanations while political scientists ... tend to construct theory-based explanations".
  3. Blakesley, David and Hoogeveen, Jeffrey L. 2007. The Thomson Handbook. Blackwell, Oxford, p209. ISBN 9781428205031