Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 2 months ago

I don't want to say it. "But I can happen to say it."/ "But I can mistakenly say it." Is "I can happen to say it." correct?

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  • 2 months ago
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    Sort of.  can happen to say = say it by accident, perhaps even against an effort to not say it.  The "happen to" is one way to say "unplanned yet occurs".

    I just happened to be walking past the bank when the robbers ran out.  I was lucky they didn't shoot me.

    I don't much see there being a "happen to" type of lack of control over what you are saying, though.  It means that the words would come out, coincidentally, as part of some other thing you were talking about.  You might happen to mention that you were at the movies yesterday as part of a conversation about movies you have seen, sure.  But you would be hard-pressed to claim it was an accident to add that you were with Jill at those movies, especially after promising Jill you would not tell anyone at all.

    It seems to me that saying something at all, when you know you should not, is not a matter of happenstance.  It is an error, a failure to respect your own prohibition.  The words might slip out, by mistake, but they don't "just happen".

    Yet, there are cases where you can accidentally say something in the course of talking about another thing, so you just happen to say the thing.  It is simply not common.

  • 2 months ago

    Your meaning isn't totally clear. I'd guess that what you mean would usually be expressed as "I don't want to say it but I might say it inadvertently" (or "accidentally") or something similar.

  • 2 months ago

    Ummmmmmmm, no, not really correct, no. 

    If you are telling someone 

    "I don't want to say it, but..."

    It would make more sense to finish the sentence with something along the lines of:

    "...I may mistakenly say it."

    "...I may inadvertantly say it.|

    "...I may accidentally let the information slip out."

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    It's very awkward.  Technically, it IS English, but no native speaker would ever find a reason to construct a sentence like that.  It's so...unusual...that I'm not confident I understand what you're trying to do.

    If you're trying to say that you don't want to reveal something but you might accidentally reveal it under questioning...or in the course of absent-minded conversation...then you may wish to say "...but I MIGHT say it." or (better) "...but I might ACCIDENTALLY say it."

    A native speaker who wants to be sure the listener understands this is a warning statement rather than a sly threat would probably add a bit more explanation, such as "Of course, I would never tell anyone on purpose, but sometimes I'm forgetful and I might blurt it out, without thinking.

    (To "blurt out" means to utter something due to surprise, or due to being under duress, without wishing to or even being fully aware of saying it.  The preposition "out" is almost always used.)

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