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How to ask for repeating in English politely?

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.

  1. Contraction: you are not familiar with the shorten or contracted sounds, e.g. could have => coulda
  2. Pronunciation: you cannot understand their accent or their way of speaking
  3. Vocabulary: you cannot understand to words, it’s a new word to you.
  4. Pace: the speaker is talking to fast.
  5. Noise: too much background or surrounding noise
  6. 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:

Could you say that again? I didn’t understand.

Can you say that again? I didn’t get all of what you were saying.

Could you please repeat what you just said for me?

I’m sorry, but I didn’t understand you. Could you please repeat that for me?


If you hear a word that you don’t understand, you can ask the speaker to explain it:

 Could you repeat that word, please? I don’t know what it means.

I’m sorry to interrupt, but I don’t understand that word?

Could you please tell me what _______ means? I don’t know 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:

Could you speak more slowly, please?

I am sorry, I can not catch what you said. It would be better if you speak just a little more slowly.


If there is too much background noise and you have trouble of understanding someone.

Could you speak louder, please? I cannot hear what you said.

I’m sorry, it is too noisy here. Could you say that again?

Could you speak up? I cannot hear you well.

Learn more: Asking for Information


If you are distracted by something, and you cannot hear all the words someone are saying.

Would you mind repeating please. I didn’t quite catch that.


Sometimes, the speaker repeats what they said, but you still don’t understand. You might say:

I’m sorry… I still didn’t get that. Could you explain in another way?

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.

Learn more:

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