Whether an instance of "why" is a noun or an adverb


In this sentence written by Samuel Clemens, I am really uncertain whether the "why" acts as a noun or as an adverb.  "Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral?"  (His answer is "It is because we are not the person involved.")


I'm using the short Essential English Grammar (Dover) as my basic guide.  After rooting through it, I am tempted to call Clemens's "why" a noun, a reflection on the other side of "is" of the "it."  


I wouldn't be asking unless someone disagreed with me and was working hard to show me my error.  If I'm wrong, no problem.  I'd just like to a have a reasoned explanation from an expert or two.

asked Feb 01 '13 at 17:38 AB New member

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