Here you will learn how to ask for clarification in English and how to clarify your point or idea.
Speak better English podcast - Episode 129
How to Ask for Clarification in English
Hi there, this is Harry and welcome back to my English learning podcast Speak Better English with Harry where I try to help you with your understanding of the English language by using different phrases, idioms, phrasal verbs and basic grammar rules that will help you to communicate in English.
We’re going to look at issues around clarifications. How to clarify something in English?
To clarify something means to clear up something.
Let’s clear up a few things.
Meaning let’s talk specifically because there’s some misunderstanding.
Of course, you can clear up the room after a party, or you can clear up the rubbish that you’ve left piling up for some time.
But here we’re talking about the clarification of ideas or thoughts or discussions. This is where we have some misunderstanding and we’re not both on the same page, as we say. We’re not both singing from the same hymn sheet.
Here I’m using two typical English idioms:
To be on the same page - Idiom meaning
To sing from the same hymn sheet - Idiom meaning
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So when we want to ask for clarification in English, we can use these expressions:
1️⃣ What exactly are you saying?
You’re asking straight to the point.
What exactly are you saying? Do you mean we should rewrite this particular programme?
2️⃣ What are you suggesting?
What are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that we cancel it and start all over again?
3️⃣ Basically you’re saying …
Basically you’re saying that we have to cancel and start again, right?
4️⃣ I don’t quite follow
I don’t follow exactly what you mean. Could you explain it in a little bit more detail?
5️⃣ Come again?
Come again? What exactly do you mean?
Different ways to ask somebody for clarification in English.
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The other expressions that I want to give you today will be useful when you’re doing the clarifying.
Somebody has asked you, and you you’re going to clear up some aspects. So what expressions can you use to give clarifications in English?
1️⃣ That’s not what I’m saying. What I meant to say was .…
That’s not what I’m saying. Actually what I meant to say was that we have to rethink this whole process and come up with a better plan.
That’s not what I’m saying. What I meant to say is that some of you are working fine, but some of you are not working to your full potential.
2️⃣ My point is this…
My point is this. It’s clear that we have to do something different to win new customers and to be more profitable in the new year.
3️⃣ Listen, what I mean is …
Listen, what I mean is simply this. We all need to try harder, we all need to work a little harder, all of us, as a team.
4️⃣ I mean …
I mean that we should really really try. We reached out to those people but we need to do it again. That’s what I mean.
These are different ways in which we try to clarify something in English.
You can use them, for example, if you’re making a presentation in English and you can see that your audience is not connecting with you.
What is also very important here is the intonation in your voice.
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