What's [happen to] in this? I've always thought that [happen to] is the phrasal verb indicating chance, which can be replaced as [by chance] such as... 1. I happen to have some money in my pocket. = I have some money in my pocket by chance. 2. Do you happen to be a teacher? = Are you a teacher by any chance? But, sometimes I stumble across what I can't use the above rule. For example... A,B,C are at the table where B prepared a meal for C. A: (Went ahead and tasted some) It's so good! B: Hey! Don't just eat it without asking! This happens to be for C. Here, the meal can't be something prepared by chance, more like it's fixed by B on purpose. Then what's the exact meaning of [happen to] in this sentence? And what would you recommend as the alternative words rather than [by chance]?
Oct 9, 2019 8:59 AM
Answers · 3
Hi Dolco! Interesting question here. Admittedly, I have not thought of it much until now, but I would consider the ABC example to be 'hedging'. Hedging means to make something more polite, and less blunt. In that sentence, I can easily say "This is for C/This is actually for C", but the 'happens to' softens my comment a little bit without being too 'mean' to A, who ate the meal without asking. Regarding alternatives to 'by chance', this phrasing 'happens to be' the one that I would substitute as well. :-]
October 9, 2019
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