What is she/he to you?

Hello everyone.

I was just wondering if this kind of question would be suitable in a situation where I want to know what is one's relation to another person.

Example: A woman is rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. Then comes a man to the hospital and asks the doctor, "how's she doing, now?". so the doctor wants to know what is the relation between this man and the hospitalized woman before he answers the man's question.
I am assuming that the doctor goes "What is she to you?". Is my assumption correct? If not, what would the right question be here in this situation?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    He could also ask "Are you related to her in any way?" In both cases the reply (e.g. I'm her partner/brother/cousin) would tell him what kind of relative he was.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    Hi.
    When "What is she to you?" could be used in British English? I have a grammar book, in which it is written that "What is she to you?" means What is her relation with you? Sister? Wife? cousin?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    You seem to know what it means: you would use it when you want an answer to that question...
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would expect the doctor to say something like "Are you a relative of hers?"
    "What is she to you" sounds rather impolite to me.
    :thumbsup:

    I would be very surprised to hear "What is she to you?" used in the post #1 hospital scenario.

    In my experience, "What is she to you?" is equivalent to "Why do you care about her?", "What do you see in her?"
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think the context is everything. A doctor is unlikely to be rude and hospitals tend to restrict visitors in certain cases to the immediate family.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    In my experience, "What is she to you?" is equivalent to "Why do you care about her?", "What do you see in her?"
    Yes, that was my first thought too.

    I suppose tone of voice could make a difference and it could be possible to ask "What's she to you?" in a way that shows you mean "What's the connection between both of you?", but e2efour's suggestions are much clearer.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    You seem to know what it means: you would use it when you want an answer to that question...
    I was trying to ask, have you ever heard "What is pronoun to you?" used in British English to express this meaning: What is pronoun's relation with you"?
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    Would like to give you some context...

    Someone took a loan of 5000Rs from my father two weeks ago. Today my father sent me to their home. I went to their home and asked for the money, telling him that Mr Raj has sent me to you. They asked "What is he to you?" (=What is his relation woth you?) I said "He is my father". They then called my father to confirm. After confirmation, they handed me 5000Rs. I thanked them and came home back.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    They asked "What is he to you?" (=What is his relation woth you?) I said "He is my father".
    Am I right to assume that the person you visited spoke Punjabi, and you are translating the Punjabi for "How are you related to him." Or "What is the relation between you and him?"?

    "What is he to you?" would work because you had introduced yourself to the man by telling him that Mr Raj has sent you. In this case, it does not sound very friendly in English, more as if the man distrusts you.

    "What is he to you?" in this case means "How are you and he connected?" i.e. it can be used for any connection, not just relations. You could answer "I work for him" or "He is my friend" or "I am his son."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Thanks,

    :) There are other posters who speak Punjabi/Urdu/Hindi/Bengali, etc. who try to translate directly from those languages to English. It is not often that it works. This is because the grammar of the subcontinental languages differs from English grammar.

    Your example is one that half works - this is unfortunate. You would say "What is he to you?" in the context of the doctor in the original example, or any other situation in which the context states or clearly implies that a relationship is required (and not just a family/blood relationship.) It would be unusual to assume that the listener knew that a relationship was required without that context.

    As has been pointed out in the thread, "What is he to you?" has the possibility of being interpreted as an insolent challenge.
     
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