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SpeakingHow to Express Lack of Understanding and Ask for Clarification

How to Express Lack of Understanding and Ask for Clarification

Clear communication is essential in all aspects of life, whether it is in personal relationships, work settings, or academic environments. One of the key components of effective communication is the ability to express when we do not understand something and ask for clarification. In this blog post, we will explore how to express lack of understanding and ask for clarification in a clear and respectful manner

1. How to express a lack of understanding

To express lack of understanding means to convey that you do not fully comprehend something that has been said or written. This can be done in a number of ways, such as:

  • I beg your pardon.
  • I beg your pardon, but I don’t quite understand.
  • I’m not quite sure I know what you mean.
  • I’m not quite sure I follow you.
  • I don’t quite see what you mean.
  • I’m not sure I got your point.
  • Sorry, I didn’t quite hear what you said.
  • Sorry, I didn’t get your point.
  • I don’t quite see what you’re getting at.

2- How to ask for clarification

When something is not clear then obviously and evidently you ask for clarification. In other words, you want the interlocutor to make it clear to you. This can be done in many ways. Here are some:

  • What do you mean by…?
  • Do you mean…?
  • Could you say that again, please?
  • Could you repeat, please?
  • Could you clarify that, please?
  • Would you elaborate on that, please?
  • Could you be more explicit?
  • Could you explain what you mean by…?
  • Could you give us an example?
  • I wonder if you could say that in a different way.
  • Could you put it differently, please?
  • Could you be more specific, please?

Examples of How to Express Lack of Understanding and Ask for Clarification

Example 1

Student: I’m sorry, I don’t understand the meaning of the word “ubiquitous” in this context. Could you please explain it to me?

Teacher: Sure, “ubiquitous” means that something is present everywhere or appears very frequently.

Student: I see. So when the author says, “Technology has become ubiquitous in our society,” does he mean that it’s everywhere and we see it a lot?

Teacher: Yes, exactly! Do you have any other questions or is there anything else you need help with?

Student: No, that’s all for now. Thank you for clarifying that for me.

Example 2

Customer: Excuse me, I’m not sure I understand the difference between these two products. Could you please explain it to me?

Salesperson: Of course, I’d be happy to. Which products are you referring to?

Customer: These two laptops here. They look very similar but have different prices.

Salesperson: Ah, I see. The main difference between these two laptops is the processor. This one has a more powerful processor, which makes it better for running multiple programs at once or for more demanding tasks like video editing.

Customer: I see. And what about the other one?

Salesperson: This one has a less powerful processor, but it’s still a great choice for everyday use like web browsing, streaming videos, and word processing.

Customer: Got it, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining that to me.

Salesperson: You’re welcome! Is there anything else you’d like me to help you with?

Conclusion on How to Express Lack of Understanding and Ask for Clarification

Expressing lack of understanding and asking for clarification are important communication and speaking skills that can help ensure that you fully comprehend what is being communicated to you. By using the strategies outlined in this post, you can improve your ability to ask for and receive clarification in a respectful and productive way. Remember that clear communication is key to success in all areas of life!


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