Suppose you want to ask someone if they've been informed of the death of a mutual friend's father.

I constructed the below sentences.

  • Are you aware of the passing of Katy’s father?

  • Are you in the loop about the passing of Katy’s father?

I understand that to be in the loop means to be aware of.

But will listeners likely feel the same way hearing either one?

Will native speakers avoid using in the loop in this use context?


EDIT: Original below

Let's suppose someone is going to ask someone else if they are informed you about someone's father death. Which one of the following self-made sentences sounds more natural:

  • Are you aware of the passing of Katy’s father?

  • Are you in the loop about the passing of Katy’s father?

For me they both mean the same and the only difference comes to mind is that the sentence #1 is a bit formal.

Would both of the following be typical or appropriate

  • Can you edit the first sentence: 'Let's suppose someone is going to ask someone else if they are you informed about someone's father death'? I can't follow what you had in mind.
    – Varun Nair
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:27
  • 1
    You probably thought that "to be in the loop" is analogous to Russian "быть в курсе (чего-либо)", but apparently it is not. Aug 22, 2016 at 15:18
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    I think in the loop is generally too casual for the topic of the death of someone close.
    – shawnt00
    Aug 22, 2016 at 19:46
  • @CowperKettle that's exactly right. thank you fro being of help my friend. ;)
    – A-friend
    Aug 23, 2016 at 6:00

4 Answers 4


Although in the loop has a similar meaning, it seems unlikely that someone would say

Are you in the loop about the passing of Katy’s father?

in most circumstances.

Someone might say it less formally like, for example,

Did anyone tell you that Rachel's father died?

Since the topic might be "serious" or sensitive, it might be said in a more formal way relatively more often. Perhaps

Are you aware that Rachel's father passed?

One meaning of to be in the loop is to be included in a group that regularly exchanges information.

If Rachel's father's death is some kind of secret, and only very close family members know so far, we might ask someone if they are in the loop about the death, to find out if they have been considered one of this small group.

  • "some kind of secret... only very close family members know so far"..."to find out if they have been considered one of this small group" Yes, this language pattern can often have an "agenda" behind it. The agenda can be innocent or it can be devious. Better to use a simple and direct language pattern which clearly has no hidden agenda. Aug 23, 2016 at 0:19
  • It can be a simple and direct question. Not necessarily with any hidden agenda. Aug 23, 2016 at 8:39
  • It certainly can be simple and direct, in the right context. It can also be part of a language pattern that a person with an emotional agenda can use to get in a dig at someone they dislike. Perhaps your life has been blessed by never having been a target of this type of person. Aug 23, 2016 at 22:38
  • @Dev The way we say Good morning can carry a dig at someone. So you avoid it? Aug 24, 2016 at 4:01
  • The question was about "in the loop". Please stay on topic :-) The original question also asked, "But will listeners likely feel the same way hearing either one?" My answer illustrated an example where the difference in wording could make a profound difference in how the person being asked would feel. Aug 24, 2016 at 23:31

There is a notable difference.

Are you aware of the passing of Katy's father?

Is merely asking of you know that he passed without concern for any other aspect of the event.

Are you in the loop about the passing of Katy's father?

Is asking not only if you know about it, but are you getting info/updates on all events/activities related to his passing. Realistically, this would be about the wake, viewing, funeral, burial, party, will-reading, etc.

  • 4
    The ongoing communication implication of in the loop is significant, that would be the normal usage in a business context. In this very personal context I would strongly recommend that it not be used: it's rather distant, has a slight implication of "keep me informed, but don't expect me to actively participate".
    – djna
    Aug 22, 2016 at 13:51
  • @djna I disagree that the phrase would tend to carry these meanings. There is no reason it should be avoided in a personal context just because it is more commonly used in a business context. It can simply mean Are you one of the people who have been told about this? Aug 23, 2016 at 8:34
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    @Jim Reynolds perhaps I've been in too many business meetings where keep me in the loop has really meant don't bother me with any detail or expect any help from me ;-) My advice remains: in personal situations try to find an explicitly caring phrase, avoid business terminology.
    – djna
    Aug 23, 2016 at 8:38
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    The question was really about the phrase "in the loop" not it's appropriateness for a death. On that, I can see many situation where it's perfectly fine. Not everyone views a death as some solemn somber affair.
    – DTRT
    Aug 23, 2016 at 12:18
  • @djna I might have been in too many gyms where "muscular" means relating to human muscles. But that doesn't cause any problem with someone using a muscular argument to mean a strong one. In the loop has a general meaning of belonging to a group that is informed about something. We'd need to know more about the people talking, their relationships, tone of voice, etc., to evaulate its social connotations here. Keep me in the loop, so I can support the project as necessary might be a common utterance in business. It does not imply that the speaker will take no action. Aug 24, 2016 at 3:52

As far as I've heard, the phrase "Are you in the loop..." is used mostly during meetings and official matters. Talking about somebody's passing is strictly personal. You should keep it simple and straight-forward.

Are you aware of the passing of Katy’s father?

Check out the idiom : In the loop.

Alternatively, you could simply say:

Did you hear about the passing of Katy's father?

or simply,

Did you hear about Katy's father?

  • Talking about someone's passing is strictly personal? What if two employees are talking about the death of a CEO they don't really care about personally? It could be a business discussion about how to handle business affairs, or guessing who the new CEO will be. Aug 23, 2016 at 8:37
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    This answer is based on the context given by the OP. Quoting: "Suppose you want to ask someone if they've been informed of the father of a mutual friend." This isn't one of those scenario where you actually "don't care" about a person's demise.
    – Varun Nair
    Aug 23, 2016 at 10:13
  • We don't know the situation. Maybe the dead father is Sauron, and everybody's happy. Aug 23, 2016 at 10:21
  • @JimReynolds, in the loop would absolutely be appropriate between two participants in a covert or military operation designed to bring about Sauron's death, where the asker is not certain the other person knows yet. For a personal situation involving the death of a friend, in the loop is a poor and awkward choice. Aug 25, 2016 at 18:48
  • The original question also asked, "But will listeners likely feel the same way hearing either one?" The answer is clearly NO. Using in the loop will instantly make many listeners wonder why it was asked that way, and cause them to search for a potential hidden meaning in the choice of words. Using a simpler question will not trigger this reaction, and the listener can focus on the information being conveyed, without being distracted by the method of delivery. Aug 25, 2016 at 18:55

"In the loop" is awkward when asking if someone is aware of an emotionally charged personal situation, such as death, divorce, or serious injury. The term "in the loop" can suggest that there is information that only a select group of insiders is supposed to be aware of, and the asker doubts whether the other person is also an insider.

A simple and direct question would be better, without risk of conveying unintended additional meaning. Examples of simple and direct would be, "Did you know Katy's father passed away recently?" or "Did you hear that Katy's father passed away recently"?.

A further issue with the additional meanings behind "in the loop" is that certain types of people employ this type of language pattern to sneak in subtle attacks on people they dislike. For example, my friend James has a stepmother named Ellen who dislikes her stepchildren. Ellen will often phrase questions in a way designed to upset her stepchildren, using words that sound innocent to casual bystanders. Her calculated intent is to exclude and hurt, by making it clear that she, Ellen, is part of the "in" group, while the stepchild is not.

It would absolutely be reasonable to ask if someone is in the loop about specific events or activities related to the death, such as, "are you in the loop about when and where the memorial service will be"? In this case, the asker is expressing caring and support, to make sure the other person gets the information they need to attend the memorial.

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