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How to 'express limited knowledge'

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How to make a point when we are not 100% sure what we are talking about. Thanks to Danny for writing this article!

 

“Thanks very much!” said my brother as he strode into the room.

Let me quickly explain that my brother was not expressing gratitude here. The statement was delivered in a tone of accusation that clearly meant the opposite, and came complete with a finger stabbed in my general direction and a look so black that the potted plant sitting quietly on my desk instantly withered translate and died.

I looked up from my computer screen, where I had been playing an addictive car racing game that required the manual dexterity of a magician and at least six more fingers than I actually had.

“What?” I demanded, annoyed at the interruption. On the screen, the small red box that represented my Ferrari flipped over and blew apart in an impossible yet spectacular explosion. I scowled at my brother. He ignored it. Apparently, the complete destruction of the ultimate virtual driving machine did not concern him in the least.

“That restaurant that you recommended last week?” he went on. “The one that you said had the best food you’d ever tasted and the best service you’d ever seen? I took Sara there last night...”

This was where I started to feel a little guilty. I had indeed recommended the restaurant. In fact, I had spent a good thirty minutes explaining to my brother how absolutely brilliant this place was. I had convinced him that, if he was looking for the one perfect place to finally get down on one knee and proposetranslate to his long-time girlfriend... then that was where he should take her. I had only left out one tiny detail...

“The place was terrible!” my brother continued. “The food was disgusting, the service was abysmal and the prices were sky-high!”

The one tiny detail? I had never actually been to the place...

“The bloody waiter tripped over me when I went down on one knee!”

My friend Chris had been to the place. It was he who had told me how great it was.

“He was carrying a tray of tomato soup!”

Now that I thought about it, I seemed to remember Chris once telling me that McDonalds’ Happy Meal was his all-time favourite food. With the exception of tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce.

“It landed on Sara. So did the waiter. Her chair went over!”

Chris had once eaten the dog’s dinner by accident. He’d actually asked for seconds. This was after we’d told him what it was.

“She grabbed onto the tablecloth and... are you listening to me!!?”

“Um... sorry”, I mumbled, making a mental note never to recommend a restaurant ever again. Ever.

Or, at least, I would make sure the person I was speaking to knew without a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t me who was actually making the recommendation...

Sometimes, you need to distance yourself from what you’re saying, just to avoid stating something too categorically, and avoid completely ruining potential happy marriages. Here’s how...

How to express limited knowledge

  • Apparently,...
  • I’ve heard that...
  • People say that...
  • As far as I know...
  • I could be wrong, but...
  • I was told that...
  • According to X,...
  • I don’t really know about X, but...
  • To the best of my knowledge,...

“Anyway”, said my brother, his face suddenly breaking into a huge grin, “she said ‘yes’!” I could kill my brother, sometimes.
So my brother is finally going to tie the knot. They’re getting married next summer. Apparently.