Native speakers of Japanese have the Japanese phrase "[X]を知っていますか?", which they often say in English as "Do you know [X]?". It means something like "Have you heard about [X]?"

For example

Do you know the slogan "social coding?"

Is this natural English even when not used about people, or does it sound a bit strange?

  • 1
    Now that you added what that Japanese sentence means, the question makes less sense.
    – apaderno
    Apr 15, 2013 at 13:58
  • But, aren't you a native speaker of English? Shouldn't you be asking whether 知る or 分かる is the right verb for translating "Do you know the slogan ..."? haha :)
    – Kaz
    Dec 4, 2013 at 7:40

2 Answers 2


As a native speaker I would probably say:

If I was unsure of the term myself, and expect that the other person hasn't:

Have you heard the phrase "social coding"?

If I was unsure of the term, but expect that the other person knows what it means,

What does "social coding" mean?

What does "social coding" mean in this document?

If I know the term, and want to check that the other person knows it:

Do you know what "social coding" means?

Do you know what "social coding" means in the context of sociology?

If I know the term, and I expect that the other person knows it, but want to be sure:

You know what the term "social coding" means, right?

  • Out of curiosity, is there any difference between "the phrase 'social coding'" and "the slogan 'social coding'"? Would not the latter be more specific? (I hate when I forget a word. :))
    – apaderno
    Apr 15, 2013 at 15:31
  • While "Do you know what "social coding" means?" is OK, as it ask about ones knowledge or understanding. However, I disagree about "What does "social coding" mean?". This is by itself just a request for information, that could be answered with "I will look it up in the dictionary." The other person's answer may have such a usage, though.
    – user485
    Apr 15, 2013 at 18:08
  • Another possibility might be "Are you familiar with [the term] social coding?" Apr 15, 2013 at 18:25

I don't know the Japanese phrase, so I can't say if it's an exact translation, but common English includes "Do you know [x]" but the more proper English would be "Do you know about [x]."

  • "Do you know dogs?" This is ambiguous, you might be asking if I know "any dogs" as in personal relationships, or you might be asking if I know "about dogs" as in knowledge of the species.
  • "Do you know your dogs?" Also ambiguous, you could be asking if I know my own dogs.)
  • "Do you know Geography?" No longer ambiguous, as we can't mistake "Geography" as an individual I might know rather than a subject I might know about.
  • "Do you know about dogs?" This is asking if you have knowledge about the animal species of dog.

Another subtlety:

  • "Do you know English?" When a language is used in this structure, we are asking if the person speaks the language, not if they have general knowledge of the subject.


  • "She knows her stuff." Is a complement saying she is an expert in what she is doing. It may be phrased more specifically as well: "She knows her computers". In this case "her" does not indicate she owns the computers themselves, but rather she owns the knowledge of computers.

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