Particularly, for English learners, it is important to know how to ask someone to repeat himself/herself. After all, there will be occasions when you simply cannot understand what the other person is saying or perhaps could not hear them well enough.
This may happen in a formal or informal setting. Then, there will be instances when you may be asked to repeat yourself. A native speaker may use an idiomatic phrase to do so. Hence, you will have to know how to ask and respond in all 3 scenarios. Continue reading to know more…
Formal Ways to Ask Someone to Repeat Something
List of formal ways to ask someone to repeat something.
- Could you kindly repeat that?
- I beg your pardon, would you mind repeating that?
- Would you be so kind as to repeat that?
- Pardon me, but could you repeat what you just said?
- Excuse me, could you repeat that, please?
- I apologize, would you mind repeating what you said?
- Can you repeat that for me, please?
- I am sorry, could you please repeat that?
- I didn’t quite catch that, could you please repeat it?
- Would you mind clarifying that for me, could you repeat it?
How to ask someone to repeat something formally
1. Pardon: This is a classic and works across borders, meaning in every English-speaking country. It’s generally used when you could not hear what was said or simply could not understand the speaker.
2. Pardon me: A more American than British version of the above.
3. Excuse me: This can be used instead of “pardon me”. In the case of both phrases, you can clarify yourself further by stating why you want the speaker to repeat himself. For example, you could say something along the lines of, “Excuse me but, I could not hear what you just said” or Pardon me, I did not understand that.
4. I am sorry (but): This is another formal way to ask someone to repeat themselves. You can use it on its own or followed by a request for the speaker to be louder, or slower, or simply explain things in another way.
5. Beg your pardon: Once considered an extremely formal and polite way to request a repetition, now this is more a way to suggest that although you have heard and understood what was said, you would just like to make sure that you are right about it.
Often, you will also find native speakers using it in response to a statement that could be considered a slight. For example, something along the lines of, “You are not exactly the smartest guy in the room”, would get the response of “bed your pardon”.
Of course, there are still those traditionalists who continue to use this phrase in a conventional way.
6. Could you say that again/Could you repeat that/Could you speak up please: These are all direct and polite requests to ask the speaker to either repeat himself/herself or speak louder so you can hear what’s being said.
Informal Ways to Ask Someone to Say Something Again
List of informal ways to ask someone to repeat something
- Can you say that again?
- What was that?
- Sorry, I missed that.
- Could you repeat that?
- Can you repeat that, please?
- Can you say that one more time?
- Could you say it again?
- Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
- I missed that, what did you say?
- Could you repeat what you said?
- Can you go over that again?
How to ask someone to say something again informally
1. Say that again: it’s direct and it’s not really a request, so this phrase is better suited when the speaker is a friend or someone you know well. The phrase “say that again” also has another meaning when used in this form- “You can say that again!”
In that statement, the phrase means “definitely” or “you are right”. For instance, if a person says “Bill gates is very rich”. The listener responds with, “You can say that again”.
2. What was that again: This is another informal way of asking the speaker to either repeat himself or speak louder.
3. You what/ Where/ Who and other such questions: Often, in an informal setting it’s the norm for a listener to ask a question that only gets the speaker to repeat the part that was not heard/understood. These questions also imply disbelief or surprise at the information that is being offered.
For instance, if the speaker says, “I threw out the ring”, the listener is surprised at this information and responds with “You did what?”, with the stress on “what”.
In this case, the listener is not asking the speaker to repeat himself but is actually expressing shock at what was done. In response, the speaker would just repeat the information as if to confirm that what was heard and understood was indeed what was said.
4. What/What did you say: Although these are also informal ways to express that you did not comprehend or hear what was said unless you keep your tone very polite, these can quickly sound very aggressive and confrontational.
Idiomatic Ways to Ask a Person to Repeat Himself
1. I did not catch that: In this sentence, the verb “catch” means to hear/understand what was said.
2. I did not get that: Same as above except that in this case, the verb “get” means to hear/understand something.
3. Come again: This is a very common native English way of informally and idiomatically asking someone to repeat himself/herself.
4. Could you speak up: Use this phrase when you want someone to speak loudly or more clearly.
5. I am hard of hearing: Literally, this phrase means I cannot hear too well. But, native speakers will often use it as a humorous way in which to ask a person to speak loudly.
Different Ways to Ask Someone to Repeat Something
- Would you mind repeating that?
- Excuse me?
- Pardon (me)?
- Come again?
- I beg your pardon?
- Could you repeat that, please?
- Could you say that again, please?
- I didn’t catch what you said.
- Sorry, I can’t understand what you are saying.
- I can’t hear your voice…, could you repeat that?
- What was that?
- I didn’t get that…
- Can you say it in another way, please?
- I’m sorry?
- Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
- Could you run that by me again?
- Did you just say ______?
- Sorry, I still didn’t hear you.
- Speak louder, please?
- Would you mind repeating that (speaking up), please; I have hearing loss.
- I’m hard of hearing?
- Sorry, I don’t know that word. What does it mean?
- Sorry, could you speak more slowly, please?
- Sorry, could you speak up, please?
- Could you tell me what it means?
- Sorry, I don’t follow you.
- I’m lost.
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