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Practical English

 

Clarifying a question or task

Sometimes a teacher will ask the class to do something and you might be confused about what they're asking you to do. Or they might pose a question to the class and you might not have understood the question, or why they're asking it.

Any time you missed something that someone said quickly:

"Sorry, I didn't catch that. What did you just say?"

"Sorry, I missed that. What did you say?"

"Sorry, what's that you just said?"

When you're confused about the task

"Sorry, I didn't follow that. What are you asking us to do?"

"Sorry, I'm not clear what you're asking us to do."

"Sorry, what are you asking us to do?"

"Sorry, I'm not clear what you're asking us to do. Do you mean we should ______ ?"


When you're confused about the question

"Sorry, what's the question?"

"Sorry, I'm not clear what you're asking."

"Sorry, what is it you're asking, exactly? I'm not clear what the question is."

"Sorry, I'm not clear what you're asking. Do you mean _____ ?"

"Sorry, what are you referring to?" (when you're not clear what the question is about)

When the question is too vague

"Sorry, do you mind clarifying the question?"

"Sorry, what are you asking exactly?"

"Could you be more specific?"

"What about ____ are you referring to?" / "What aspect of _____ are you referring to?"

  • for example, "What did you think of the reading?" "I liked it. What aspect of it are you referring to, exactly?"
Austin Woerner