We’ve all been there. We’re out on the street, going about our day, minding our own business, when someone comes up to you and says “Do I know you?” A dreaded question, whether you know them or not. But, when that happens, how are you expected to respond to them?
What do people mean when they say “Do I know you”?
When someone asks “Do I know you?” they could mean a couple of different things. The first thing they could mean is obvious, they feel like they recognize you from somewhere but can’t quite remember where and they have resorted to asking you to find out. A second thing they could mean is they just wanted to talk to you. Some people use “do I know you” as an excuse to approach and talk to someone they know they have never met. It can sometimes work as a conversation ice breaker. A third meaning of “do I know you” is “who are you?” or “who do I think you are”, a sometimes common response to a stranger being rude to you in public is to say “do I know you?” as a way to try and tell the stranger to leave them alone.
Is saying “Do I know you” rude?
Whether or not it’s rude depends on the context that it’s said. For example, it might come across as rude to say “do I know you” to someone who you have not only met before but have met multiple times. It could come across to the other person as if you don’t care enough to remember them. But, it won’t be rude if you two were just introduced but you feel like you recognize them from somewhere. Also, a determining factor for whether or not asking “do I know you” is rude is the tone of voice you use. Asking with a nice, soft, inquisitive tone is much more polite than saying it with a condescending tone. So, to answer the question, “is saying ‘Do I know you’ rude?”, it all comes down to context and tone. It can be asked politely but it can also be asked very rudely.
30 best replies to “Do I know you?”
But, if you are asked that dreaded question, how are you supposed to respond? Well, you have two options. A serious reply or a funny reply. Here are some examples.
Sometimes it’s just best to be polite with the person so you can both continue with your day.
1. Yes, we met-
If you do recognize the person, it would be polite to respond honestly and then tell the person where you had met previously to help jog their memory that they do in fact, know you.
2. No, sorry, I don’t know you.
If you don’t recognize them, or do but don’t want to talk to them, you can just politely respond by saying “No, sorry, I don’t know you” and then continuing on your day. Although, as a warning, depending on how confident the person is that they know you, this response might not be enough to convince them that you don’t know each other.
If you aren’t sure if you know each other, it would be polite to respond by saying “maybe…” and then offering some locations or events that the two of you may have met before to see if anything would make sense.
Or, if you want to know the person, some polite responses are:
4. Yes, let me reintroduce myself.
If the question was asked by someone you want to know better or impress, it is a polite choice to confirm that you know each other and then reintroduce yourself to them so that hopefully they will remember you next time.
5. No, but I’d like to know you, I’m-
If you don’t already know the person but want to strike up a conversation with them, the polite response would be to say no but then express an interest in getting to know them and then going ahead and introducing yourself to them.
6. I think so…
If you aren’t sure if you know this person but want to, it would be polite to respond by saying “I think so…” and then offering some locations or events that the two of you may have met before to see if anything would make sense.
Sometimes, you might be in a goofy mood or just want to laugh, so when someone asks “do I know you”, you decide to give them a funny response. Here is a couple that should get a laugh or two:
A fun response to this question is to simply say “what?” Pretending to not be able to hear them. Just keep responding “what?” over and over again making this person repeat themselves over and over again at increasing volumes until they start to look silly and will stop and leave you alone.
8. “You ever been to Cleveland?” “No.” “Me neither.”
A fun response to the question can be to try to offer unhelpful hints as to where or when you might have met before. Such as lying about what school you went to or what city you live in.
9. You probably met my twin.
Lying about having a twin is a funny way to get out of the conversation with whoever just approached you. If you actually have a twin this doubles as a polite response because it might be true!
10. Only on Wednesday. *wink*
Give the question asker a cheeky wink and walk away, absolutely baffling and confusing them. Allowing you to escape what was sure to be an awkward conversation.
Saying “yes” to the question and then walking away without providing any further information is a funny way to escape that conversation.
Saying “no” to the question and then walking away without providing any further information is a funny way to escape that conversation.
13. Maybe, but you don’t want to.
This ominous response should be enough to creep the person out so that they leave you alone and you get a funny story to tell friends.
14. I don’t know, do you?
This response works best if the question was asked rudely. Now the focus has shifted back to them, showing anyone in earshot how rude the first question was making them embarrassed and making you laugh.
Just stare blankly at the person who asked you that and say nothing. The sheer awkwardness of the situation should set in eventually and the person will walk away.
16. I can’t believe you don’t remember me!
A fun response to that question is to pretend to get offended that they don’t remember you. Hopefully, embarrassing them in public to the point that they leave you alone.
17. You better!
This is another funny response that puts the focus on the other person, forcing them in an embarrassing state to rack their brain for how they know you.
18. I don’t know what you know!
This is another fun one that shifts the focus back on the other person and the annoying question they just asked you.
19. I bet you’d like to *wink*
If the question was asked by someone you are interested in romantically, this can be a funny and flirty response that would capture their attention.
20. I’m the person your mother warned you about.
This is another fun and flirty response to the question.
21. Yeah, I’m the guy/girl of your dreams.
This is a third response that has a fun and flirty energy to it.
22. *Give them a fake name*
If you are confident that you don’t know this person and will never see them again, it can be fun to give them a fake name and fake details about yourself to see how they respond.
23. *talk with a fake accent*
Similar to the option above, this can be a fun way to talk to a person you are confident you’ve never met.
24. I don’t understand.
A fun response can be to pretend to not understand the question. Forcing the other person to awkwardly explain why they came over to talk to you.
25. I’m good, how are you?
A fun answer is to answer a completely different question to confuse the other person.
26. Do I know you?
Just keep repeating whatever they say back to them. It’s a bit juvenile but it is funny and will get them to leave you alone.
Just bark in response, regardless of where they thought they knew you from, barking at them is just so weird that it will get them to leave you alone.
28. You can see me?
Pretend to be a ghost who died years ago and this person is the first mortal to be able to see you.
29. Probably, I know a lot of people.
This is a funny response that will make you seem like a really popular and important person and the question asker is the weird one for not remembering you.
30. OK, yes, I’ll sign an autograph.
Pretend that you are someone famous, and that’s why they recognized you, and try to sign something they have on them.
How to choose between a funny or polite reply
It all depends on you and the situation. When someone asks “do I know you”, you have a split-second decision to make of whether to be polite or funny. Polite responses are better suited for people you want to impress. Such as bosses, future bosses, hopeful romantic partners, future in-laws, or random people on the street. If someone comes up to you on the street and asks “do I know you”, it is probably best to just be polite. Either confirm or deny and continue with your day.
Funny responses are better suited for more casual scenarios like at a party. There are plenty of funny responses that work for scenarios like if you know the person and want to talk, know them and don’t want to talk, don’t know them but want to talk, and don’t know them and don’t want to talk. Funny responses also work best when there are other people around to hear the response and laugh with you.
It is all about reading a room and assessing a situation when you have to decide between a polite or funny response.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.