I know not what

“You are all expectant of I know not what.”—HONOLULU by William Somerset Maugham
“I know not what” means “something unintelligible.”

Can I change “I” to “you” like this:
“You are all expectant of you know not what.”

Grammatically speaking, you could, but it does change the meaning a bit. In the first example, “I” don’t know what you are waiting for and probably you don’t either, but perhaps you DO know.

In the second example, “you” don’t know what you are waiting for; I may not know either, or perhaps I do!

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something undefined or not understood = i know now what = you know not what = we know not what = the teacher knows now what, etc The subject of the verb “know” is the entity which is clueless.

Please note:
You are all expectant of (I/you/we/they) know not what.
You are all expectant of (he/she) knows not what.
Also the subject of the sentence, “You” can be any subject.

In modern standard American English a similar sentiment would be expressed this way:
You seem particularly eager about something. What is it? What are you so excited about? Is something wonderful about to happen?

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Thank you for the rose, Yutaka. I appreciate it.

Literally, “I do not know what you are all expectant of ( and neither can I imagine)” it’s an older style of writing and a little more poetic. I only use this form for dramatic affect or emphasis.


There’s nothing I can add to this! =)) A 100% accurate explanation! =)) Even that of its modern usage! :wink: