What's the meaning of 'If you'll believe me' in this context? It's from a novel Baker's Blue Jay Yarn by Mark Twain.

Well, at last he could hardly flop his wings, he was so tuckered out. He comes a-drooping down, once more, sweating like an ice pitcher, drops his acorn in and says, 'Now I guess I've got the bulge on you by this time!' So he bent down for a look. If you'll believe me, when his head come up again he was just pale with rage.

I guess that means 'I'm not sure if you believe what I'm going to say or not'.

  • 2
    I think it just means that something unexpected, unbelievable happened.
    – v kumar
    Aug 5, 2015 at 5:32
  • 5
    Yeah, it's a literary device, said for effect. The author doesn't really think that the reader won't believe him—it just alerts the reader that something astounding is about to be reported. Aug 5, 2015 at 7:49
  • @ Brian Hitchcock - you should elevate your comment into an answer, IMO. Concisely written.
    – Mark G B
    Nov 10, 2015 at 1:09

3 Answers 3


He's emphasising how unusual the response was, by flagging the response up as potentially not credible.

It just means "If you will believe me."

Technically, it's a type 1 conditional - which is is used to refer to the present or future where the situation is real. In this case, the rest of it is in the present tense, so it could be argued the author is emphasising how real the situation is. But to be honest, that seems a bit abstruse for as colloquial and folksy a bit of writing as that.


it probably means something unexpected which you may or may not believe


Oh i think i encountered something similar yesterday, putting "will" here is not to emphasize the future simple tense, rather it is to mean "if you are willing to believe me..."

There is this book titled "oxford english grammar" free for downloading, you can search it in google. This usage has been mentioned by the book.

By the way its grammar is less important than the function in literary as mentioned in the comment above.

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