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Woman: Would you like to hear about it? (it=the woman's day.)

Man: ...Okay.

Woman: You sure? You don't have to.

Man: No, but I can sense you'd like to tell me about it.

Is sense perfectly natural here? Or is there a better alternative?

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"Sense" is perfectly natural here. It has a meaning very close to "feel emotionally" but with an added overtone of "rational" understanding. He is saying

No, I don't actively want to, but I am pretty certain that you do want to, so let's do it.

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  • How about "feel", could that be used as well? – user116750 Jun 14 at 18:59
  • Yes. It would mean just about the same thing though, to my ear, "sense" is a bit more tentative and intellectual than 'feel." When we get to very subtle shades of meaning, not everyone will agree. – Jeff Morrow Jun 14 at 19:16
  • Would it be more natural? – user116750 Jun 14 at 19:29
  • It depends what meaning you intend to convey. Both are perfectly natural here. I have explained what I think the very slight difference in meaning would be in this context. It is a common mistake to believe that frequency of use is more important than meaning. English has a huge vocabulary; you are free to use every word in it. The only true error is using a word that does not convey your intended meaning as exactly as possible. – Jeff Morrow Jun 14 at 19:53

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