do you happen to know ...?

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Hi,

I am just wondering the difference between saying "Do you happen to know" and "Do you know".

Some people ask "Do you happen to know where the shopping plaza is?" instead of simply using "Do you know..."

Is that related to politeness?

I mean if you add "happen to know" then, does it make more polite?

Thanks in advance.
Full Member313
Approved answer (verified by )
Hi,

I am just wondering the difference between saying "Do you happen to know" and "Do you know".

Some people ask "Do you happen to know where the shopping plaza is?" instead of simply using "Do you know..."

Is that related to politeness?

I mean if you add "happen to know" then, does it make more polite? Yes.It makes the question less strong, less direct. It suggests that, if the person you are asking does not know, the answer is not important.

Clive
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Anonymous:
I'm sorry but if it suggests that if person you are asking to does not know the answer, it would not matter; then why bother asking? There must be something beyond that explanation.

How about the expression: The girl in Jurasic park (1993) when it was suggested that a Rex ate a goat.

"what you don't like meat?" lawyer

"I happened to be a vegeterian!" the girl

Or when you are asking someone you do not know, " Do you happen to know where the bus station is?" I mean, you are being polite by avoiding a more direct question like Do you know where the bus station is? (I would ask that to a friend I'm visiting that lives in a place I DO not know).

Cheers both of you

Jluis
Hi Jluis,

I'm sorry but if it suggests that if person you are asking to does not know the answer, it would not matter; then why bother asking? There must be something beyond that explanation.

The politeness lies in letting the person know that it is not a big deal if they don't know the answer. I avoid embarrassing them if they don't.

As a more general comment, I ask lots of questions where the answer is in fact not very important to me. Don't you?

How about the expression: The girl in Jurasic park (1993) when it was suggested that a Rex ate a goat.

"what you don't like meat?" lawyer

"I happened to be a vegeterian!" the girl The earlier discussion was focused on the question form, Do you jhappen to know . . . ?'

Or when you are asking someone you do not know, " Do you happen to know where the bus station is?" I mean, you are being polite by avoiding a more direct question like Do you know where the bus station is? (I would ask that to a friend I'm visiting that lives in a place I DO not know). Yes. You seem to be agreeing with me, here.

Best wishes, Clive

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Anonymous:
For some people directness or being indirect is a matter of style and you can't assume you know thier intention based on your response.

If you are going to ask the question do you happen to know something (the grocery list is)....I expect you would like to know where is is located not if someone only knew. That is, you don't want a yes/no answer.

I think that if you ask ...if you happen to know...it is because you are intimidated by the person and therefore don't really say what you mean.

The same in reverse. If you want someone to be intimidated by you, make sure you answer their question directly and withough further explanation.

.
Anonymous:
Well said :-)

Rahul Lachoriya
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