What can you say if you don’t understand someone when they speak English? Here are some useful phrases!
Level: Elementary and above
You can ask the question ”What did you say?” to get someone to repeat the sentence.
‘What did you say?” refers to something the other person already said (which you didn’t understand).
You can also say “Can you say that again?” The word ”that” refers to something they already said.
”Repeat” means ”say again”. You should also say ”repeat that” because ”that” refers to what the other person said before.
“Could you speak more slowly please?”
“Could you slow down a bit, please?” (Slow down = a phrasal verb which means to speak slowly.)
Saying you don’t understand
“I didn’t catch what you said.” (Catch = understand)
“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand you.”
Alternatives to this are:
“Sorry, but I don’t understand what you’re saying.” Use the present continuous (what you’re saying) and not the present simple (what you say) to refer to what the other person is saying now (not what they say in general).
“Sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean.” You can also use the verb ”mean”. For example, ”What do you mean when you say … (X)” or ”What does the word (X) mean?”
Saying You Don’t Understand
Choose the correct answer.