Who might you be?

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Senior Member
Mary: I am looking for Jane King.

Jane: I'm Jane King. Who might you be?
Hi there!

I am wondering whether it would be rude, if Jane asked, "who are you"? In other words, why did Jane use subjective mood here?

  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Actually, I find "Who might you be?" to be far more rude in a snide, condescending kind of way. I don't like "Who are you?" either but I find it less "superior". To ask it politely, I might say:

    "I'm Jane King. And you are....?"


    Senior Member
    English (US)
    It really depends on the manner in which you say it. "(And) who might you be" sounds perfectly polite as long as you don't say it in a condescending tone. "(And) who are you" is a bit more blunt/cold, and I think it sounds rude in many contexts. Of course, Dimcl is correct that another, less harsh way to ask would be to ask "(And) you are...". (Remember to let the end of the question trail off, sounding unfinished.)

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There's a moment in Les Enfants du Paradis where Lacenaire talks of the presumptuousness of the question 'who are you?', suggesting as it does that someone can explain their personality in just a few sentences. I think that's why I prefer to ask 'what is your name?'
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