How to ask someone to repeat something?
There are times you cannot hear or understand what other people say to you. Do you ask them to repeat him or herself? Of couse you will. This situation is very common for English native speakers and it will be more often for you when you are learning English. First, let’s look at some reasons why you may not be able to understand in the first place.
- Contraction: you are not familiar with the shorten or contracted sounds, e.g. could have => coulda
- Pronunciation: you cannot understand their accent or their way of speaking
- Vocabulary: you cannot understand to words, it’s a new word to you.
- Pace: the speaker is talking to fast.
- Noise: too much background or surrounding noise
- Distraction: something causes you cannot pay full attention to the speaker.
Why should you ask for repeating? Are you embarrassed to ask for repeat? No, don’t be embarassed to do that. It is better that you understand what the other person saying than not.
Learn more: How to say “No” in English politely?
Phrases to politely ask for repeating what other people said.
Now, we will learn how to ask someone to repeat themselves in a polite way. If you cannot understand because of the accent or pronunciation of the speaker, you might say:
If you hear a word that you don’t understand, you can ask the speaker to explain it:
Learn more: 11 useful phrases to ask for help
If someone is talking too fast, you should ask them to slow down. You might say:
If there is too much background noise and you have trouble of understanding someone.
Learn more: Asking for Information
If you are distracted by something, and you cannot hear all the words someone are saying.
Sometimes, the speaker repeats what they said, but you still don’t understand. You might say:
Learn more: Do you want something to drink?
Finally, you can use your body language to show that you don’t really understand what someone said. There are two ways to do this:
- Step closer to the speaker if you are standing, lean toward the speaker if you are sitting.
- Put your open hand on your ear and lean toward the speaker.
Remember the main purpose of the conversation is to understand each other. The speakers always expect you to understand what they said. So don’t worry if you ask them to repeat themselves.