Expressing Lack of Understanding and Asking for Clarifications in English

EFL/ ESL English Speaking Lessons

Expressing a lack of understanding and asking for clarifications in English


  • Do you misunderstand people?
  • How often do you find yourself not able to understand what people are saying?
  • How often do you think of ways to ask people to clarify more?

Often when we talk with people, we don’t understand them and need to continue the conversation. In this short lesson, you will be introduced to how you can express your lack of understanding and ask for more clarification.

Expressing a lack of understanding

  • I don’t understand
  • I’m not sure I got your point
  • Sorry, but I don’t quite understand
  • I don’t see what you mean
  • She doesn’t see your point
  • I didn’t get it
  • They  don’t quite follow you
  • Can you repeat it?
  • I don’t get your point

Asking for clarification

  • Can you clarify more?
  • Would you explain more, please?
  • Would you put it simply?
  • Can you say it in another word?
  • What do you mean by…?
  • Can you be more explicit?
  • Can you elaborate more?

Giving clarifications

  • In other words, …
  • Sorry, let me repeat it…
  • I will give you an example …
  • Well, by “..”, I meant….
  • Let me explain….
  • To put it simply…

Examples of expressing lack of understanding and asking for clarification

  • A: By linguistics, I refer to the scientific study of language.
  • B: I don’t quite understand you.                                    
  • A: Can you clarify what you said please?
  • B: yes, I said that the test will be next week.                                                 
  • A: I’m sorry doctor I didn’t understand you, can you clarify, please?
  • B: let me explain, take three pills a day. Each one before a meal.


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