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There is an expression in English:

"For all I know, ...."

The following clause often has a modal expressing uncertainty or the hypothetical nature of the assertion, like "might", "may", "could", or "would".

For all I know, he might have gone abroad.

For all I know, she doesn't even work there anymore.

For all I know, the test hasn't even been written yet.

The usage is usually something like this. You are talking about some topic. You disavow even a basic level of certainty about the topic by saying "For all I know, X", meaning something like "I can't even be sure that X isn't true. How can I say anything useful about the topic, if I can't even rule out possibility X?"

This is not the same as "To the best of my knowledge, X" (which means you really think X, you are just saying you are unsure). I think that "As far as I know" is more like "To the best of my knowledge" than "For all I know", but I think it might have some flexibility. I don't know.


So, my question is whether Chinese has any equivalent phrases or ways to express "For all I know"? I've seen a few instances of 据我所知, but I don't know whether that's idiomatic Chinese or just a stilted and academic translation. Also, I don't know whether it really has any of the same implications that "For all I know" has. For all I know, 据我所知 is just a neutral statement like "To the best of my knowledge"!

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If uncertainty is expressed in "For all I know", then can the first example do without "might"? Is there any uncertainty in this statement "For all I know, he has already left the country"? – 杨以轩 Nov 24 '12 at 1:33
@QuestionOverflow The way I phrased it and the way you phrased it are both acceptable. – Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 24 '12 at 5:13
What I am trying to explain is that there is no implicit uncertainty in the phrase at all. "For all I know" is the same as "for all that I know", "to the best of my knowledge" or "as far as I know". Depending on the tone, it may sound rude and can be spoken by someone who is irritated and wants to end the questioning from the asker. – 杨以轩 Nov 24 '12 at 5:50
@QuestionOverflow Part of what I was explaining is that "For all I know" is not the same as "to the best of my knowledge". If I believed he had left the country but wasn't sure, I could say "As far as I know, he has already left the country." If you're asking me if he's leaving next week or the week after, and I'm trying to tell you I don't have any clue, I might say "As far as I know, he's already left the country", implying I don't even know whether he's still here, much less when he's leaving. – Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 24 '12 at 9:27
Pardon my ignorance. You are right. "For all I know" actually means the person not knowing much at all. @fefe's answer is as good as it gets. – 杨以轩 Nov 25 '12 at 4:11
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I can only give some possible translations based on your explanation of "For all I know":

For all I know, he might have gone abroad.


For all I know, she doesn't even work there anymore.


For all I know, the test hasn't even been written yet.


We would use "说不准" "没准" and things like that to express the uncertainty. I can't think of one phrase that would have the same meaning of "For all I know" as your explained.

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Thanks for your answer! – Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 24 '12 at 9:29
I think For all I know should be 以我所知 because similar to from/for, = I, and 所知 = things (one) knows. – Pete C. Sep 20 '14 at 21:20
@PeteC. no, that is an incorrect definition of the English idiom. For more details see:… – congusbongus Jan 22 '15 at 23:37

据我所知…… is good, but reminds me of newspaper writing.

就我所知…… is also quite reasonable (and probably the best choice in my opinion).

我所知道的是…… is yet another 所 + verb phrase that could work.

我还以为…… could also work in certain contexts, remembering that we aren't going word-for-word.

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Can you comment on whether you think the examples you gave have the same connotations of "For all I know", or if they're just equivalent to "To the best of my knowledge"? – Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 24 '12 at 5:14
If you truly wish to "disavow even a basic level of certainty about the topic" then I'm not sure how "For all I know..." differs from "I [simply] don't know." The other respondent's suggestion of 说不准 is good; in a similar vein, another relevant term is 说不定. – user2251 Nov 24 '12 at 6:38
I guess maybe a more direct rendering of the semantics of "For all I know, X" would be something along the lines of "连 X 我也不知道" – Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 24 '12 at 9:28
Perhaps, though "I don't even know..." is pretty similar to "I [simply] don't know." If I wanted to convey the meaning of a sentence like "For all I know, she doesn't even work there anymore," I'd probably just say "I don't know where she works now" (我不知道她现在在哪里工作) or "Is she still working at the same place?" (她还在以前的公司工作吗?) – user2251 Nov 24 '12 at 9:58
Thanks for your answer, I think I've learned a lot. – Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 24 '12 at 21:28

据我所知 is neutral, and hence is not appropriate in this case. I agree with fefe that "说不准" can be used, but where I'm from, we generally use "说不定" instead.

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Franky, for the example sentences you wrote, I think 有可能 is a good way to translate "For all I know". This Chinese wording can imply that you don't know. It's just more common than any more direct translation of "For all I know".

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