Imagine youâ€™re listening to a colleague in a meeting. GraduallyÂ you realize that she’s beginning to lose you. You donâ€™t understand exactly what she means, perhaps because you’re struggling with the vocabulary. Or you may have the impression that other members of the group are confused by a word she uses. Or maybe you feel that everything is just too theoretical. In all of theseÂ cases, you can aid understanding, and in turn make the meeting moreÂ efficient, by asking the right question. This post gives examples of phrases you can use to do just that.
Asking for an explanation
You may need an explanation because youâ€™re unfamiliar with a word which is central to the speakerâ€™s message or because youâ€™re unsure what this word means for the speaker.
- Could you explain what â€¦ means, please.
- Sorry, Iâ€™m not familiar with the expression … What does it mean exactly?
- Iâ€™m not quite sure what you mean by …
- Just to be on the safe side, what exactly do you mean by â€¦
Asking for confirmation
You may want to confirm that you have understood the message correctly. Or perhaps you have the impression that the speaker is using a word incorrectly (e.g. a false friend) and this is causing confusion. In either case, you can use the following phrases to ask for confirmation.
- So your position is that â€¦ Is that right?
- Just to make sure Iâ€™ve understood you correctly, â€¦
- Sorry, are you saying that …?
- When you say you canâ€™t do it actually, do you perhaps mean that you canâ€™t do it at the moment?
Asking for an example or more details
Perhaps you think it would be helpful if the speaker could provide a specific example or more detailed information.Â
- You said you needed the goods urgently. What exactly do you mean by urgently?
- Thatâ€™s interesting. Could you give me an example?
- I think itâ€™d help us all to get a clearer picture, if you could tell us about (the difficulties you had the last time the delivery was late.)
- Could you give me some more information about â€¦