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Asking someone to explain

English Speaking Topic

Asking someone to explain

  • How often you do not understand something in a conversation?
  • How do you feel when that happen?
  • What do you say or do when that happens.

Let’s learn some phrases to check for understanding and ask someone to explain something.

ASo did you call Pete about confirming the delivery?
BYou mean the date of delivery?
AYes. And then you need to enter the delivery date into the spreadsheet. Here. See what I mean?
BOh yeah, thanks.
AI forgot to do that last month and the boss went crazy!
BWhat do you mean?
AShe was really angry. She was shouting at me and screaming, you know. She was horrible to me.
BWell, a silly mistake can cost a company lots of money.
AWhat are you saying?
BNothing. What I’m trying to say is you made a little mistake, but it is meant the company lost money. That’s why the boss was really angry.

Learn moreAsking for Information


Language Note:

Asking someone to explain something

If you don’t understand what someone says, ask them to explain it.

What do you mean?

If someone says something that upsets you, you can ask them to explain it using a more aggressive question.

What are you saying?

If you want to check someone to understand youself, you can ask them this question

See what I mean?

If you want to explain something again, you might use this phrase.

What I’m trying to say is…

Learn moreShowing interest in a conversation


Useful tips – Rising intonation in questions

When checking for understanding, rising intonation is a common spoken feature in many English-speaking countries. Listen carefully to these speakers, note the rising intonation at the end of the sentence:

Learn more:

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