I am looking for an alternative to saying

This may be a dumb question, but....

I would like to find another way to tell someone that I respect his/her time and realize I should probably already know the answer to the question I am about to ask without hinting that my question is somehow dumb.

  • 1
    I've got an easy one for you, ... – Jim Jun 13 '15 at 23:52
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    Say nothing. Just ask your question. You do not need to presume to judge whether your question is good or bad - your interlocutor can decide that for herself. False modesty is arrogance. – Drew Jun 14 '15 at 0:29
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    "Excuse me, but. . . . " is sufficiently apologetic/deferential. – Brian Hitchcock Jun 14 '15 at 8:50

"Sorry, if I ask, but I don't understand ..."

I would avoid such introductions as "This may be a dumb question". It is only a sign of uncertainty. Most "dumb questions" are often very difficult to answer. But there are no dumb questions. If you don't know something or understand something it is the right thing to ask, especially on forums that are question forums.

Drew's recommendation (see comments above) is even better than mine. No prelimary introduction. Just ask your question.

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