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This has been bugging me for a while now. I personally find it very condescending or aggressive, almost regardless of the context even.

I've got two examples off the top of my head:

  1. Someone has posted a video, tweet or something similar, asserting (confidently, knowingly or happily) something like "Nobody needs more than a one car" or "This hotel in Florida that I spent a week in is amazing!"

The usage for "You do realize..." in this case could be something like "You do realize that not every family is like yours and they could need two cars" or "You do realize that [the hotel] has 1.5 stars on Tripadvisor and had a cockroach problem last year"

  1. Someone posts a honest question on StackOverflow, asking about some relatively beginner problem, but on top of the problem, their example code has a security flaw that they are not aware of.

The usage for "You do realize..." in this case could be something like "You do realize that you are opening your whole database up for anyone to access".

I find "You do realize..." in both instances very condescending, but I am wondering if it is just me, if there is any gray area, or if this specific phrase is objectively condescending to everyone?

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    As always, it depends on many factors. Online is a special case as tone cannot be heard. In actual speech, it might not be condescending at all. You say to your male friend (and you are a male, too): "You do realize your zipper is unzipped, right?" I'd call that helpful. The tone can be "between you and me".
    – Lambie
    Jun 14, 2022 at 22:02
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    Or someone might say to you "You do realise don't you, that you are the best-looking person I've ever met!". It is entirely dependent on context.
    – WS2
    Jun 14, 2022 at 22:29
  • @WS2 Would you say that in your example, saying "You do realise don't you, that you are the best-looking person I've ever met!" is equivalent to saying "Has anyone ever told you that you look the best!" or "Am I the first person to tell you that I that you are the best-looking person I've ever met!"? Because these two phrases carry no negative meaning to myself, but your phrase still "rings" just a little bit.
    – Swiffy
    Jun 14, 2022 at 22:34
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    @Swiffy I think it is perfectly possible to use the expression with sincerity, without implied sarcasm. You do realise, of course, that without your contribution, this whole project would have failed. I would not be at all surprised to hear of it being used in that way.
    – WS2
    Jun 14, 2022 at 22:57
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    Please be careful to distinguish criticism from aggression, at least on academic sites such as those of the Stack Exchange family (I am not concerned with Facebook, Twitter and the like). These sites generally deal with questions to which there should be an objective answer, but deciding what is the best answer may require evidence-based argument. In such cases criticism of arguments or suggestions will arise and forceful criticism of e.g. a security leak should not be equated with aggression. However, in this case, the SE spirit is being broken by addressing the person rather than the idea.
    – David
    Jun 16, 2022 at 17:15

3 Answers 3

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It can be used in two ways. One is to patronize the other person. That is, the speaker is pointing out something they think should be obvious, in a somewhat snarky way.

The other is to say something nice. But it's a surprise sentence -- which I hadn't thought about until you brought this up. The sentence starts out sounding snarky, but turns into something sweet or laudatory.

The nice usage is optional. You don't have to do it. And you can let the people close to you know that it's a pet peeve and you'd rather not have to hear it in your down time.

It would be an interesting experiment to flag the patronizing version if you come across it at StackExchange, and see if your flag is accepted.

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  • I think it can be used in a neutral way or a polite way, like saying "I'm sorry I don't mean to bother you, and maybe you're already aware of this, but I wonder if you've noticed that..."
    – Stuart F
    Jun 15, 2022 at 18:23
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This phrase can be used in two ways:

  • Sarcasm

The person wants to convey the message indirectly through sarcasm

You do realise that you are sooo helpful right?

  • Sincerity

Person tries to be helpful and sincere to what he is saying

You do realise that you forgot your bag?

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Personally, no... I don't consider it condescending or arrogant, but that's actually a bit of an arrogant statement in and of itself since it really depends on the context in which its being used.

For instance, you could say... "You DO realize you only have 10 minutes to get to work, right?" In which case, I would be grateful you brought it to my attention. On the other hand, you could say something very different like...

"You DO realize no one likes you, right?" And obviously, that would be taken very differently.

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