My senior person asked me to do some work that I am not aware of. I would like to know the difference between these two set of words. I think both the question gives the same meaning, but why he should ask like that? He may thought that I was already aware of those work, but I am not.

  • He probably means that when his senior asks him to do something ambiguous, what does the OP have to say in this case, "I don't know what to do." or "I don't know what I'm supposed to do."? In the end, he is hoping to know your answer. Jan 25, 2019 at 18:24

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure from your question who was doing the asking and who is answering, but it shouldn't matter for the answer. There's a few different ways these phrases could be interpreted:

You don't know what to do:

  • You don't understand what is being requested of you.
  • You don't know which tasks are necessary to complete the request, like what all the acceptance criteria necessary to call the request complete.

You don't know what you're supposed to do:

  • You don't know the recommended course of action to complete the understood request. Recommended could mean:
    • the way it was done before
    • the way the team/business usually does it
    • The way by the documentation or experts would do it
  • If the task is given with a whole series of tasks, you don't know which one takes priority over the others.
  • If there are only a select number of possible ways to complete the task, you are not sure which to choose

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