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Expressing lack of understanding and asking for clarification


Here is a list of useful English phrases you can use to express lack of understanding (that is, when you fail to understand what has been said to you) and seek clarification from the person you are talking to.

How to express lack of understanding

When you fail to understand what has been said to you you can use these expressions:

  • I beg your pardon?
  • I beg your pardon, but I don't quite understand.
  • I'm not quite sure I know what you mean.
  • I'm not quite sure I follow you.
  • I don't quite see what you mean.
  • I'm not sure I got your point.
  • Sorry, I didn't quite hear what you said.
  • Sorry, I didn't get your point.
  • I don't quite see what you're getting at.

How yo ask for clarification

When you don't understand what someone has said, you can ask for clarification using the following expressions:

  • What do you mean by...?
  • Do you mean...?
  • Could you say that again, please?
  • Could you repeat please?
  • Could you clarify that, please?
  • Would you elaborate on that , please?
  • Could you be more explicit?
  • Could you explain what you mean by...?
  • Could you give us an example?
  • I wonder if you could say that in a different way.
  • Could you put it differently, please?
  • Could you be more specific, please?

Clarifying one's point or idea

To clarify your idea you can use the following expressions:

  • Let me explain that...
  • Let me explain that in more detail...
  • Let me put it in another way...
  • Sorry let me explain...
  • In other words...
  • To say this differently...
  • To put it differently...
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