I believe "You should know that..." is commonly understood as something along the lines of: "It would be good for you to know that ...".

However, in a written sentence it's impossible to know where to put the emphasis:

  • You should know that ...
    • It would be good for you to know that ...
  • You should know that ...
    • You of all people should know that ...
  • You should know that ...
    • You should know by now that ...

In a mail, a comment online or some other informal way of communicating, is it clear that the sentence is a "friendly" one, or might the receiver think you're being hostile?

It's inspired by this comment by the way. I realized afterwards that it could be taken almost like an insult.

  • I would not consider the referenced statement to be insulting. Stern, yes but not insulting. Moderator's can take on an air of authority. Think of the Stanford Prison Experiment. :-) That said, I would remove the preamble altogether and start the sentence with "Answers that ...". Being a good poster I would then refer to a link where the source for the statement can be found. Jun 21, 2017 at 22:04
  • 1
    I read it as a (BrE?) attempt to tone down the otherwise abrupt “Answers that ...”.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 20, 2017 at 4:19

2 Answers 2


The reader's interpretation could depend on the context.

Some alternatives which are less potentially ambiguous:

  • I should tell you that...

  • Be aware that...

  • Be advised that...

  • Keep in mind that... (This is perhaps even more polite because it pretends that the reader already knew whatever it is, so you aren't faulting them for not knowing.)


Usually, if you're trying to come off as amiable and warm, rarely do you want to make an accusation directly at one person using "you." It puts them in the hot seat. Compare these two sentences:

You need to fix this.


We need to fix this.

Making the sentence more general will almost always come off better than directly talking to one person. In your case of "You should know that..." you might want to rephrase it to "It's common knowledge that..." or "Everyone knows that..."

  • "Everyone knows that..." and "it's common knowledge that..." seem like a bad choices, since these imply that everyone else know more than the person your talking to. It might have been a poorly phrased question, but what I'm trying to say is: "Welcome to the company. You should know we'll do what we can to make you feel welcome, so if you have any questions our concerns, don't hesitate to ask." But without all the fluff. "You should know there is a system that automatically fixes that for you." Mar 22, 2017 at 9:57
  • In that case, I would remove "You should know" completely and say "We'll do everything we can to make you feel welcome. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask." Mar 22, 2017 at 10:02
  • It's inspired by this comment by the way. I realized afterwards that it could be taken almost lie an insult. Mar 22, 2017 at 10:15
  • I agree with you, but my question still stands. If it were written, would it be unambiguous? Mar 22, 2017 at 10:16
  • For me, ambiguity doesn't really come into question, they'll 100% understand what you're saying in this context. It's more about winnowing out phrases you don't need. In my opinion, "You should know" doesn't add anything to the sentence and lets you get straight to the point. Mar 22, 2017 at 10:38

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