0
  1. Who do you know who would wear a hat like that?

This sentence appears in my textbook. When I saw it, I started to wondering, effectively, if there is any difference in meaning between it and the following one, which is what people say in everyday life, right?

  1. Do you know who would wear a hat like that?

And do you think the third one sounds correct?

  1. Who do you know would wear a hat like that? ( I simply made it up).

3 Answers 3

2

The 3rd one is technically grammatically correct, but it sounds a bit awkward.

you can say Do you know anyone who would wear a hat like that?

The 1st sentence asking the person about individuals they are familiar with who might wear a hat like the one in question.

The 2nd sentence is a direct question asking the person if they can identify someone who would wear a hat like the one in question.

1

The first is asking for a list of people who would wear a hat like that, from among the people the hearer knows.

The second is asking for a yes/no answer. "Yes" means the hearer knows a person who would wear a hat like that. This construction is sometimes used when the speaker knows such a person, and expects the hearer to respond "No. Who?"

The third is unusual, and would often be misunderstood or understood to be a mistake. It is asking for anybody, not necessarily somebody the hearer knows, that the hearer is certain would wear a hat like that. If the hat is a royal crown the response might be "the King of England".

3
  • Thanks. As for the second, I thought the speaker expects more than a "yes/no". A cooperative response would be something like " I think Mike/Jill/David would". That's how I understand the structure " Do you know...."
    – ForOU
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 2:18
  • 1
    @ForOU, for the second, the question asks for yes/no. The questioner might expect "yes" to be substantiated by a name or two being suggested. Some people might even respond with only suggested names, implying "yes" is the answer. On the other hand "No" is an answer. For the first, on the other hand, a negative response is "Nobody".
    – Peter
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 2:53
  • I got it, thanks.
    – ForOU
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 3:10
1

The first two examples feature different senses of to know. The former means Who, from among your acquaintances, would wear…?, while the latter means Is the information that you possess sufficient to allow you to specify the people who would wear…?

I note that, not so long ago, the first question would more likely have been phrased Whom do you know who…?

Your third example would mean Of which persons P can you be certain that ‘P would wear…’?

4
  • Thank you. But I don't quite understand your comment on the last question, "P" in particular. Does it mean the same as "Of which persons can you be certain that ‘S/he would wear…’?"
    – ForOU
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 2:10
  • I’m using P like a mathematical variable… like a name. It’s as though I said, “Consider a man, let’s call him John. Now, if John met a woman (call her Mary) and Mary told John that… [etc.].” Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 2:19
  • Oh, Okay. To make sure I understand it correctly, does my paraphrase mean roughly the same thing: Of which persons can you be certain that ‘S/he would wear…’? ( where I substitute "s/he" for the variable)
    – ForOU
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 2:51
  • Yes. It is a tiny bit more ambiguous than mine, though the only way I have come up with to eliminate the ambiguity does so only at the cost of introducing the P business. Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 12:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .