for all I know

LV4-26

Senior Member
Hi foreros,

there was a discussion on the french-english forum about "to the best of my knowledge" and whether it could be translated the same way as "as far as I know".
Now could any of you tell me the difference (if at all) between those three expressions :
1.To the best of my knowledge
2.As far as I know
3.For all I know

Thanks a lot
Jean-Michel
 
  • Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Hi Jean-Michel, I couldn't find "for all I know". And as a matter of fact, I did not know that phrase (is it a fixed one?). Here my little contribution, these two definitions.

    to the best of my knowledge/belief
    from what I know and understand from the information that I have:
    To the best of my knowledge, the chemicals which were found are not dangerous.

    as/so far as I know
    used to say what you think is true, although you do not know all the facts:
    He isn't coming today, as far as I know

    (from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    LV4-26 said:
    Now could any of you tell me the difference (if at all) between those three expressions :
    1.To the best of my knowledge
    2.As far as I know
    The first two seem to have very similar meanings. Perhaps "to the best of my knowledge" implies that the speaker has been a little more cautious in checking what he's about to say.

    LV4-26 said:
    3.For all I know
    This phrase normally introduces an extreme, unlikely or unexpected situation that is nevertheless possible. E.g.:

    - He wears a ring, but he may be single, for all I know.
    - The man I met on the beach yesterday seemed friendly, but he could be a thief, for all I know.
     

    fetchezlavache

    Senior Member
    france
    exactly. 'for all i know' implies a 'si ça se trouve', and you can almost always replace it with 'but maybe'.

    he wears a ring, but maybe he is single. the sentence is not as well written, but conveys the same meaning. :)
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Thanks Artrella, Ousider and fetchezlavache.
    Yes, I felt "for all I know" could be an english equivalent for "si ça se trouve".
    I happen to have this in a sentence I have to translate. Unfortunately, it's written in the past ("for all I knew") and "si ça se trouvait" doesn't sound fine to me. But of course that would be a point to be discussed in the FR-EN forum.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    LV4-26 said:
    Thanks Artrella, Ousider and fetchezlavache.
    Yes, I felt "for all I know" could be an english equivalent for "si ça se trouve".
    I happen to have this in a sentence I have to translate. Unfortunately, it's written in the past ("for all I knew") and "si ça se trouvait" doesn't sound fine to me. But of course that would be a point to be discussed in the FR-EN forum.

    It can work in the past too. "For all I knew it was poison, but I drank the bottle anyway because I was so thirsty". This is obviously different from "As far as I knew it was poison...."!! Where your experience leads you to suspec that it is poison. In the first sentece you have no idea either way.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    fetchezlavache said:
    exactly. 'for all i know' implies a 'si ça se trouve', and you can almost always replace it with 'but maybe'.

    he wears a ring, but maybe he is single. the sentence is not as well written, but conveys the same meaning. :)
    I never thought about this before. I think you are right. I'd add this one extra thought:

    - He wears a ring, but he may be single, I truly/really do not know.
    - The man I met on the beach yesterday seemed friendly, but he could be a thief, I truly/really don't know.

    It's like an afterthought stressing that you are guessing without any facts or any strong opinion one way or the other.

    And that may be a long way of saying the same thing as "maybe" or "perhaps", as you said. :)

    Gaer
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Hi, me again, reporting back. :)
    Tim said:
    For all I knew it was poison, but I drank the bottle anyway because I was so thirsty"
    (my emphasis)
    I had this other sentence somewhere :
    For all I know the girl was buried alive in the Arabian sands.

    Those examples are obviously different : all the other examples had can or may in them. (he may be single, he could be a thief).

    Apparently (otherwise Tim would have pointed it out), the absence of modals expressing possibility doesn't change the meaning. Or does it, like slightly increasing the degree of probability?

    In short, is there absolutely no difference between
    (1) For all I know it could have been poison and
    (1a) For all I knew it was poison

    and between
    (2) For all I know she may have been buried alive
    and
    (2a) For all I know she was buried alive
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I've been saying your sentences to myself and I think that there may be a tiny difference of nuance, but I am completely unable to express it - and so maybe am inventing it anyway. Certainly they are incredibly close.
     

    Kelly B

    Curmodgeratrice
    USA English
    This is probably a bit of a stretch, but I think a hear a difference in the sand example, and the end phrase matters. I think the first sounds more uncertain as to the exact manner of her disappearance.
    (2) For all I know she may have been buried alive in the Arabian sands
    and
    (2a) For all I know she was buried alive in the Arabian sands

    2-
    I don't know what happened to her. Maybe a herd of camels ran her over. Maybe she fell into the Euphrates.
    2a- Yeah, she was traveling through the desert. Maybe she got buried alive there.

    The poison example doesn't have that degree of specificity, and I don't really hear a difference there.
     
    Both for all I know and for all he knows fall into the same phrase for all somebody knows
    The phrase has two shades in meaning
    1. Literally, it means as far as I know/ sb. knows
    2. = but somebody doesn't care, used to show indifference
    both 1. & 2. are used to emphasize ignorance

    1. - He wears a ring, but he may be single, for all I know.
    2. - The man I met on the beach yesterday seemed friendly, but he could be a thief, for all I know.
    3. For all I know the girl was buried alive in the Arabian sands.
    All the above examples can be explained by but I don't care
    More examples:
    He may be dead for all I know.
    It might have been tomato soup for all I know.
    For all he knows, we might be in Boston.
    He could be in Brazil, for all I know.

    Just to share with you
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I agree with ofriendragon, insofar as I have always regard 'for all I know' as indicating indifference, but I'm not sure I agree with your point about ignorance.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Thanks for your inputs, Porteno and ofriendragon
    I have always regard 'for all I know' as indicating indifference
    Would you consider this sentence :
    When I opened my door, I heard someone move inside. No doubt, the people that were after me were there, waiting for me in the dark. For all I knew, they might have guns, so I decided to play it cautious.
    Two options
    - you're right and the use of "for all I knew" is not appropriate here.
    - "for all I know" does not always indicate indifference
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Your sentence is correct. "As far as I knew" would be okay, but to me it would sound a little wrong because it would imply that you had some prior information that they might have guns.

    That to me is the difference between the phrases. "As far as I know" means I have some idea (probably based on at least some evidence). "For all I know" means I really have no idea what the case is. I may be speculating, but I may offer an ironic/absurd theory about falling into the Euphrates to illustrate that I'm only taking a wild guess.

    I would say "for all I know" can (slightly) but does not usually indicate indifference. I think there's some confusion with "for all I care," which as you correctly pointed out yourself, is different.
    .
    .
     
    1. I don't think For all I knew is inappropriate here. There’s still something indifference on the surface here.
    2. When it is used literally, it surely can mean something like who knows?= God knows.
    3. Maybe it is used in a sense contrary to its normal meaning for ironic or humorous effect?
     

    kahroba

    Senior Member
    Persian
    I'd like to know what's your interpretation for "for all I know" in the following context, taken from "Three Soldiers" by Dos Passos:

    "Folks come from Virginia?"
    "Yes." Andrews got to his feet.
    "Then you're related to the Penneltons."
    "I may be related to the Kaiser for all I know."
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I'd like to know what's your interpretation for "for all I know" in the following context, taken from "Three Soldiers" by Dos Passos:
    It means something like "my knowledge on this subject is so minimal that it is not large enough even to contradict someone claiming that I am related to the Kaiser!" Or something like that:).

    Although there isn't much context, I get the impression that the writer has chosen the Kaiser at random, and could have chosen any unlikely person to make the point about how little he knows about who he might be related to.

    Basically he saying he has no idea if he's related to the Penneltons, and it's as likely as being related to anyone else.
     

    kahroba

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks dear Timpeac
    Actually, there's not much context about the subject, but you've explained it quite clearly and to the point.
    Thanks again.
     
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