Introduction:

Being asked and asking question is very normal in meetings, telephone conferences or simply speaking on the phone. And this is very important in business, where you may loss your job if you misunderstand something. For those whose first language isn't English, it is fundamental to know phrases to say if you get lost in a conversation or just want to be sure about something.

In this online exercise you will learn some English phrases that are used to ask for both clarification and confirmation of something that has been said. First, read the below dialogue/conversation and then do the quiz/test at the end to learn how to both use the vocabulary and say/pronounce it perfectly.

The focus here is on meetings in English, but these phrases can be used in other business situations as well. The focus is on formal language.

Click here to see more of our free online exercises on business meeting vocabulary


Exercise: Clarifying and confirming in a meeting

Read and following part of a business meeting where several of the attendees ask another attendee to clarify some points about a proposed expansion into the American market he has made/said.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Peter:'So, I recommend that now is the time for our company to expand with this new venture in to the US market.'

Ray:'Peter, going back to what you just said about subsidizing the venture for the first 3 years, could you clarify what you mean?'

Peter:'Well, with all the additional costs of starting a new operation there and being new to the market, if we don't make a loss on each product we sell, then nobody will buy them.'

Ray:'So, correct me if I'm wrong, but do you mean we will make a large loss for the first 3 years?'

Peter:'It's not exactly what I meant. It won't be a large loss, we've calculated it at about $150,000 over the 3 years. By the fourth year, we'll be making a profit as we sell more units. Does that make everything clear?'

Ray:'More or less.'

Hans:'Peter, I'm sorry, could you go over that again?'

Peter:'No problem Hans, we've calculated that the loss at about $150,000 over the 3 years. By the fourth year, we'll be making a profit as we sell more units.'

Jennifer:'Sorry, I must have misunderstood what you said, do you mean that there isn't a market for our products in the US at the moment? And that we are going to be losing money until we can create a market there?'

Peter:'No, I meant that the market is there. We just need to do what we did in Turkey and we'll be certain of making a profit by the fourth year.'

Jennifer:'I don't like the sound of this. What exactly do you mean by what we did in Turkey?'

Peter:'By using the same business strategy we used when we entered the Turkish market. We made a small loss at the beginning on each product sold due to the set up costs, like marketing, advertising, building etc... In a nutshell, It'll take 3 years to build up a market for our products and then we make money.'



Quiz: How to confirm and clarify information

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A phrase used by someone to check if their understanding of what was said is right, is
         

Correct me if I'm wrong:
(phrase) . This phrase is generally followed by a phrase of confirmation 'but do you mean ....'. A similar but more informal phrase is 'so you're saying'. In Spanish: "a lo mejor me equivoco".

Close

Correct me if I'm wrong:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

2. A phrase used to ask if someone now understands what was said, is
         

Does that make everything clear:
(phrase) A similar but more direct and impolite phrase is 'do you understand now?'. In Spanish: "está claro ahora".

Close

Does that make everything clear:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

3. A phrase used to refer back to a previous part of the speech/conversation, is
         

Going back to what you just said about:
(phrase) This phrase is followed by a phrase to ask for clarification or confirmation, e.g. 'Going back to what you just said about the cost, do you mean...' In Spanish: "volver a lo que has dicho acerca de".

Close

Going back to what you just said about:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

4. A polite phrase where the person asking it seems confused or surprised by what they have heard, is
         

I must have misunderstood what you said:
(phrase) A polite phrase where the person saying it is surprised/shocked by their understanding of what was said. It is followed by a phrase of confirmation, e.g. 'do you mean ...' etc... In Spanish: "debo haber entendido mal que ha dicho".

Close

I must have misunderstood what you said:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

5. A direct way to tell someone that they haven't understood what you said, is
         

No, I meant:
(phrase) This is very direct and maybe a little impolite. It is recommended to use 'It's not exactly what I meant' instead. In Spanish: "no, quieria decir".

Close

No, I meant:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

6. A phrase that asks someone to repeat what they said, is
         

Could you go over that again:
(phrase) This phrase is used when the person asking it wants a better explanation. Normally, it is used when they haven't understood something. In Spanish: "puede repasarlo otra vez".

Close

Could you go over that again:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

7. A direct phrase which asks someone for clarification on a point, is
         

What exactly do you mean by:
(phrase) This phrase is not impolite but maybe too direct for some people. A more polite form is 'could you clarify what you mean by...'. In Spanish: "qué quieres decir exactamente sobre".

Close

What exactly do you mean by:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

8. A polite phrase which asks someone for clarification on a point, is
         

Could you clarify what you mean:
(phrase) A more polite way of saying 'what exactly do you mean'. In Spanish: "puedes clarificar lo que quieres decir por".

Close

Could you clarify what you mean:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

9. A polite way to tell someone that they haven't understood what you said, is
         

It's not exactly what I meant:
(phrase) It is very polite and commonly used. It has the same meaning has 'No, I meant', which is a little too direct and rude. In Spanish: "no es que queria decir exactamente".

Close

It's not exactly what I meant:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

10. A phrase which means I going to say or confirm something in the fewest possible words, is
         

In a nutshell:
(phrase) This is a very common expression and is often used with confirmations and affirmations, e.g. 'Will Spain win the world cup?' 'In a nutshell, yes!' In Spanish: en pocas palabras.

Close

In a nutshell:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close







Practice

Now that you understand the new Clarifying and Confirming for business vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.