Friday, January 27, 2006

I don't know..

I often hear people say I don't know. I realize that not everybody knows everything, that's impossible. Therefore, like the proverbial stupid question, there' no shame in admitting that you don't know.

Or is there?

My good friend Tom pointed out to me today that there are two places in a sentence where I don't know can be placed, and it makes a big difference:

I don't know is totally acceptable in the first half of a sentence, but never at the end Here's a classic example:

I don't know, but I'll look into it is a fine answer, as would "I don't know yet, thanks for calling it to my attention.

Implied, of course, is that I don't know as the answer to a question, say:

Why are we getting errors?

I don't know.

As was given to me is not appropriate, at least, when the question is addressed to a person who should know the answer.

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1 comment:

Bob said...

You and Tom are right. It's the words, implied or stated, following the "I don't know." I don't mind when someone doesn't know something, even if I think they should. I actually like it when someone admits they don't know what the answer is. It's refreshing, compared to people who always give an answer, right or not. However, if it's their job to get me the answer to my question their "I don't know" better have a "hang on, I'll look it up" at the end.