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Hi!

Several of my students start writing a postcard saying: "You don´t know!" or "You don´t know what happened to me"!

This doesn´t sound correct to me. I would say "You can´t imagine..." But I would like to check if their expressions are wrong since grammatically they do not seem to be wrong.

Thank you very much.
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Hi,

Several of my students start writing a postcard saying: "You don´t know!" or "You don´t know what happened to me"!

This doesn´t sound correct to me. I would say "You can´t imagine..." But I would like to check if their expressions are wrong since grammatically they do not seem to be wrong.

These two expressions seem a little awkward and not very natural, but I wouldn't say they are wrong.

'Imagine' seems a slightly formal word in this context in everyday speech, particularly for young people.

Things we commonly say include

Guess what happened!

You'll never guess what happened!

Clive
Comments  
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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English says that the following structure is used to emphasize how good/bad/surprising/etc. something is:

You can/can't imagine how/what/why/etc.
- You can't imagine what a terrible week we had.
- You can imagine how angry I was!

It also says it's used in British English (and not common in the US, apprarently). Since it's relevant in to the questions in this thread, if anyone wants to comment on this, I'll appreciate it (I'm curious as well).
Kooyeen- You can't imagine what a terrible week we had.
- You can imagine how angry I was!
Hi Kooyeen

Generally speaking, those sentences are also fine in American English. However, using them as a way to start off a postcard and introduce a surprising bit of news does not strike me as the most typical usage. Actually, the second one isn't appropriate at all.

Here is another possibility that I might add to Clive's suggestions:

- You won't believe what happened to me!
Clive! Thank you VERY much. You always help me a lot with your comments and suggestions!
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Yankee(especially not the second one).
Hi,
thanks. Yeah, the second one clearly needs a context first (otherwise, how CAN you imagine anything? LOL)
But the first one should be ok as a way to introduce something, why not? We use it this way in Italian, is it different in English? Example:

Message for Amy:
Hi Amy,
you can't imagine how upset I am right now. My cat has disappeared... I haven't seen her in two days! I am very worried... blah blah blah.

Maybe you had other contexts in mind? I just saw that the original poster was talking about "postcards". Still, I think I might send you a postcard like this:

Hey Amy,
you can't imagine how beautiful it is around here! I'm taking tons of pics!!! Kisses...

Maybe it's really more common to use this structure in British dialects, as Longman says? I don't know. But I was kind of curious, since this structure is very common in Italian, so I brought up the subject Emotion: smile
Hi Kooyeen
KooyeenMessage for Amy:
Hi Amy,
You can't imagine how upset I am right now. My cat has disappeared... I haven't seen her in two days! I am very worried... blah blah blah.
Right, I was responding to usage as specifically stated in the original question, and the sentence in the quote above does not sound like the beginning of a postcard to me. However, I can easily imagine it in an e-mail, for example.
KooyeenHey Amy,
You can't imagine how beautiful it is around here! I'm taking tons of pics!!! Kisses...
I imagine someone might possibly begin a postcard that way. However, once again I will refer back to the original post. One of the example sentences offered was this:
"You don´t know what happened to me!" Maybe the main problem here is simply the idea of "what happened (to me)". I simply can't easily imagine starting off a postcard with "You can't imagine what happened (to me)."
Ok, so it's just a matter of context... I see, thanks!
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