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I have this sentence that forms a disaster for me. I know what is wrong with it but I can't find some suitable fixes.

The sentence is:

I'm actually wondering why did the chef keep silent all that time, with knowing the slightest details about me and her boyfriend?

1- I feel like it would be more proper for keep silent to be kept silent, but it is in a question form, so it won't fit.

2- With knowing, I find it improper English. So, I tried to replace it with "With her knowing","despite her knowing", and "although knowing". But I find them having the same problem in common.

  • Choose between "did keep" or "kept", and drop the "with". – user3169 Aug 16 '18 at 5:53
  • With slightest do you mean to suggest that she knew almost nothing, or that she knew even the smallest details? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 16 '18 at 11:54
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I mean by it that she knew the smallest details. But I think I use it wrong after reading the answers. – Tasneem ZH Aug 17 '18 at 7:18
  • Is the boyfriend the chef's boyfriend or the boyfriend of a different person, a woman? Is the chef a woman? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 17 '18 at 12:40
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo The boyfriend is the chef's boyfriend, and the chef is a woman. – Tasneem ZH Aug 17 '18 at 16:05
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As a native American speaker, I'd suggest:

I'm actually wondering why the chef kept silent all that time while knowing every detail about me and her boyfriend.

or

I'm actually wondering, "Why did the chef keep silent all that time, knowing every tiny detail about me and her boyfriend?"

  • Each of those are statements, not questions. They state that I am wondering something.
  • I wouldn't use "the slightest" that way. I either use it in a negative sense: "I haven't the slightest idea" or as a threshold: "Press the button if he makes the slightest move." I offer a couple alternatives in the examples above.
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  • Thank you for the suggestions, with those two, I would fix a lot of dialogs at my story. I just want to know what do you mean by "Threshold"? Does it mean "a start of something"? – Tasneem ZH Aug 17 '18 at 7:27
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@user3169 Covered the first part pretty well. You can leave it as is, or drop the did and use:

I'm actually wondering why the chef kept silent all that time...

For the second part, despite sounds the best to me. The others are all grammatical as far as I'm aware though.

Also, slightest isn't the word you're looking for here. Slightest means a small amount when used in a context like this, whereas you are using it to mean small details (as in, even the small details). I would go with every detail.

So, in conclusion we have:

I'm actually wondering why the chef kept silent all that time, despite knowing every detail about me and her boyfriend.

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I'll start by pointing out some problems with the grammar:

  • Wondering why did sounds awkward.
  • All that time doesn't have any context. I want to ask "All what time?*
  • With knowing the slightest detail is actually the opposite of a common phrase: without knowing the slightest detail. So, it doesn't sound quite right.

The second point may make sense if there actually is more context, but I can only go by the sentence itself.


I'm going to suggest a rephrasing based on what I think you're trying to express:

I wonder why the chef kept silent for so long, knowing all that she did about me and her boyfriend?

This may be too much rephrasing without knowing context.

Here is a more conservative edit:

I'm actually wondering why the chef kept silent all that time, knowing all that she did about me and her boyfriend.

Here, I removed the question mark because, unless it's dialogue, it's more of a statement as it's written than an actual question.

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  • I didn't mean it that way. I meant that the chef knew about the romantic relationship, I and her boyfriend, had. About "that time", it is a story and this sentence is one of many, so it would be clear for the reader what time I am talking about. – Tasneem ZH Aug 17 '18 at 7:15
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As used colloquially, I wonder and I am wondering can introduce an assertion about yourself which is complemented by a finite clause with normal (SVO) word order, or they can be used to pose a question about something and in that case they are complemented by a clause showing subject-verb inversion.

Don't worry too much about the question mark punctuation and the use of quotation marks.

I wonder why he is late.

I wonder, why is he late?

Why is he late, I wonder.

I am wondering why he is late.

I am wondering, why is he late?

Why he is late, I wonder. not idiomatic

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  • Is "I wonder" and "I am wondering" used colloquially? And, is using colloquially in stories, a good and common thing? I'm not talking about "I'm gonna" for example. But words as "wonder". Thanks for the examples of the question mark 's issue, by the way. – Tasneem ZH Aug 17 '18 at 16:11
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    wonder and wondering are used frequently in conversation and casual contexts, rarely if ever in formal contexts. You will hear She wonders if the train is late but it would be most unusual to hear This Court wonders if you are satisfied with the representation your attorneys have given you. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 17 '18 at 16:30

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