There are certain times in our lives that we need to make sure we understand everything. That's when clarifying information becomes important. If we want to double-check, we can ask for clarification. If we want to make sure that someone has understood, you can request confirmation that someone has received the message. This type of clarification is especially useful in business meetings, but also in everyday events like taking directions over the telephone or checking an address and telephone number. Use these phrases to clarify and check information.
Phrases and Structures Used to Clarify and Check that You Understand
Question tags are used when you are sure you have understood but would like to double check. Use the opposite form of the helping verb of the original sentence at the end of the sentence to check.
S + Tense (positive or negative) + Objects + , + Opposite Auxiliary Verb + S
You're going to attend the meeting next week, aren't you?
They don't sell computers, do they?
Tom hasn't arrived yet, has he?
Phrases Used to Rephrase to Double Check
Use these phrases to indicate that you would like to rephrase what someone has said in order to make sure you have understood something correctly.
Can I rephrase what you said/have/said?
So, you mean/think/believe that…
Let me see if I've understood you correctly. You…
Can I rephrase what you mean? You feel it's important to enter the market now.
Let me see if I've understood you correctly. You would like to hire a marketing consultant.
Phrases Used to Ask for Clarification
Could you repeat that?
I'm afraid I don't understand.
Could you say that again?
Could you repeat that? I think I may have misunderstood you.
I'm afraid I don't understand how you plan to implement this plan.
Phrases Used to Make Sure Others have Understood You
It's common to ask for clarifying questions after you presented information that might be new to those listening. Use these phrases to make sure everyone has understood.
Are we all on the same page?
Have I made everything clear?
Are there any (more, further) questions?
Are we all on the same page? I'd be happy to clarify anything that's not clear.
Are there any further questions? Let's take a look at a few examples to help clarify.
Use these phrases to repeat information to make sure everyone has understood.
Let me repeat that.
Let's go through that again.
If you don't mind, I'd like to go over this again.
Let me repeat that. We'd like to find new partners for our business.
Let's go through that again. First, I take a left at Stevens St. and then a right at 15th Ave. Is that correct?
Example 1 - At a Meeting
Frank:… to end this conversation, let me repeat that we don't expect everything to happen at once. Are we all on the same page?
Marcia: Can I rephrase just a bit to make sure I've understood?
Marcia: As I understood, we're going to open up three new branches over the next few months.
Frank: Yes, that's correct.
Marcia: However, we don't have to make all the final decisions right now, do we?
Frank: We only need to decide who should be responsible for making those decisions when the time comes.
Marcia: Yes, Let's go through how we're going to decide that again.
Frank: OK. I'd like you to choose a local supervisor you feel would be up to the task.
Marcia: I'm supposed to let him or her choose the location, aren't I?
Frank: Yes, that way we'll have the best local knowledge.
Marcia: OK. I think I'm up to speed. Let's meet again in a few weeks.
Frank: How about Wednesday in two weeks?
Marcia: OK. See you then.
Example 2 - Getting Directions
Neighbor 1: Hi Holly, could you help me out?
Neighbor 2: Sure, what can I do?
Neighbor 1: I need directions to the new supermarket.
Neighbor 2: Sure, that's easy. Take a left on 5th Ave., turn right on Johnson and continue straight ahead for two miles. It's on the left.
Neighbor 1: Just a moment. Could you say that again? I'd like to get this down.
Neighbor 2: No problem, take a left on 5th Ave., turn right on Johnson and continue straight ahead for two miles. It's on the left.
Neighbor 1: I take the second right on Johnson, don't I?
Neighbor 2: No, take the first right. Got it?
Neighbor 1: Uh, yes, let me just repeat. Take a left on 5th Ave., turn right on Johnson and continue straight ahead for two miles.
Neighbor 2: Yes, that's it.
Neighbor 1: Great. Thanks for your help.
Neighbor 2: No problem.