Can I start a question using "Any chance"?

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"Any chance you know where John goes? <-- is it correct?

Or the correct form has to be "By any chance, do you know where John goes?"

Wayne

Posted 2018-02-14T23:07:01.003

Reputation: 61

3"Do you know where John goes?" is an awkward construction to my ears. Generally you ask, "do you know where John is going?" if you want to know his current destination, because your question interrupts a continuing action (John going somewhere). About the only context that your sentence sounds right is if you're asking about a habitual action: maybe John disappears from work every afternoon for fifteen minutes. In that case it would make sense to ask, "Do you know where John goes [every afternoon]?" – Canadian Yankee – 2018-02-15T01:09:35.890

You could also, quite legitimately, have "is there any chance [that] you know where John goes". Eliding the "Is there" and the "that" (which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do in informal English) gives your original question. – Darael – 2018-07-03T21:54:18.723

"Any chance you know where John goes?" is completely understandable but it's also wholly familiar. One would never use those specific words to a stranger.

More formally, you might ask "Is there any chance…" but still never "Is there any chance you know where John goes?" at which point it gets very complicated.

Colin Fine and spoko might be wholly right about US Americans omitting “by” and then, particularly in this context, let’s remember that US Americans happily but British English speakers almost never address anyone as “Stranger…” – Robbie Goodwin – 2018-07-09T18:34:33.623

Answers

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"Any chance ... " questions are very common in speech in British English (maybe American too, I don't know), but mostly when asking for permission or help. It doesn't sound so natural to me in your case, but oddly if you ask

Any chance you can tell me where John goes?

which has essentially the same meaning, but is framed as a request for help, that sounds natural to me.

Colin Fine

Posted 2018-02-14T23:07:01.003

Reputation: 47 277

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Omitting the "by" is also quite common in American speech, pretty much as Colin Fine described it in his answer.

As far as framing it as a request, the way Colin describes, I would say that beginning it with this phrase automatically frames it that way. If you said "Any chance you know where John goes" to me, I would assume you were asking me to inform you if I knew. If you said "By any chance, ~" there's still a slight implication that you're requesting the information, but it's not as strong.

spoko

Posted 2018-02-14T23:07:01.003

Reputation: 647

I'd argue the bit elided is "is there", not "by". – Darael – 2018-07-03T21:55:13.423

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As a supplement to the other answers, which I agree with, in AmE the implication of this rather casually phrased question can be that the speaker thinks it is quite possible that you will not know the answer to the question, or that a stranger will not want to offer an answer—or that the expected answer is "Sorry" or "No". Getting a "yes" in answer or getting the information requested is a "long shot":

Any chance you can tell me when the previous train left the platform?

Excuse me, sir. Any chance I can borrow your phone for a minute?

Tᴚoɯɐuo

Posted 2018-02-14T23:07:01.003

Reputation: 116 610