In a conversation, you may need to check something that you didn’t hear or understand. Now, think about ways you check for information you didn’t hear in your mother tongue, what do you say? Are there any phrases you say to ask someone to repeat something? Well, in English there are different ways we can do that.
Now, let me tell you a little about the examples I’ll be using in this podcast.
All these examples are true for me. They are contextualized with my recent trips. The reason why I use real examples is because I want to show how these conversation strategies could be used in real conversations. When I recorded this podcast, I was in Spain. Barcelona was my first stop, then I went to Granada and finally, Seville, so all these examples are about these amazing cities.
Today I’ll show you 4 strategies to check information.
- use the expression Did you say . . . ? or What did you say? to check information
A: There’s usually about a 13-minute wait for the bus.
B: Did you say thirteen or thirty?
A: I said 13, so you can cross the road and get that ice cream you want before the bus comes.
2. repeat words as a question to check information. Just say the same you heard, or what you think you heard.
A: Well, there’s a Moroccan estaurant within walking distance.
B: Within walking distance?
A: Yes, it’s around the corner.´
3. use the expression I’m sorry? or Excuse me? to ask the speaker to repeat what he or she said
A: Are there any markets to shop around here?
B: Excuse me? Did you say markets to shop?
A: Yeah, I mean, local markets.
A: Which bus should I take to the Alhambra?
B: I’m sorry? Did you say to the Alhambra?
B: Oh, you should take the C32.
4. Ask an “echo” question, which is to repeat something you heard and add a question word to check the information you didn’t hear:
A: There’s a Turkish tea shop on the Main Avenue.
B: I’m sorry. There’s a tea shop where?
A: On the Main Avenue, it’s right in front of the bank.
In this case the question word is “where”, other question words are what, who, when and how. Before you ask a question word you need to know what the question is about, for example if someone says “There’s a Turkish tea shop on the Main Avenue.” And the focus is the place, my question word is going to be “where”. There’s a tea shop where?
A: Is there an ice cream place around here?
B: I’m sorry, a what?
A: An ice cream place. I heard about a famous Italian ice parlor on Gran Via Avenue.
In this case if the information I didn’t hear was ice cream parlor, the question word should be “what”, I’m sorry, a what?
Now think about how to ask an echo question with a question word after the following statements. I’ll give you some time to think about the question and then will give you the answer. Here we go:
A: The sandwich that sells the Iberian ham opens at 11:00am. (The information you missed is the time.)
B: Excuse me? It opens at what time?
A: After Granada, I’m headed to Seville. (The information you missed is the place where I’m headed after Granada)
B: I’m sorry, you’re headed where?
A: Breakfast and dinner is included in this hostel? The information you missed is what is included)
B: Excuse me? what is included?
A: We’re flying to Amsterdam the day after tomorrow. (The information you missed is the time)
B: You’re flying to Amsterdam when?
A: I’m meeting Giannina in Miami next year. (The information you missed is the person I’m meeting)
B: You’re meeting who?
- Use the questions Did you say . . . ? or What did you say?
- Repeat words as a question to check information. Just say the same you heard, or what you think you heard.
- Use the expression I’m sorry? or Excuse me?
- Use echo questions plus a question word.
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