check information in English

12 Ways To Avoid Disasters and Check Information in English

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Questions - Asking for clarification

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire

Getting things done can be difficult. Getting things done in English can be even more difficult.

Understanding customers, employees, managers, colleagues, and vendors in English is often a challenge.

I know you might feel like it’s better not to ask because you are afraid of sounding stupid, but it is okay if you ask questions.

asking questions in business English

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In many areas of business, it is better to be safe than sorry. When things are misunderstood, important things can go wrong and have a negative impact on your business.

For example, when an order is wrong, your customer will be unhappy. If you are unsure about anything, it is better to ask.

Plus, you can learn to ask good questions in English.

Video lesson: At the warehouse

To avoid misunderstandings in English meetings, you often need to check some information.

check information in English

Watch the video lesson by BBC English below to learn how you can ask questions in a business meeting -and other business situations- to make sure that things are correct.

You can find a transcript of the dialogues here:

BBC Learning English: Checking information

Useful phrases for checking information

Checking information in Business English

In the video, you saw that some terrible things can happen if you don’t make sure that you understood important information correctly.

To prevent your business from a disaster, it’s good to have a few useful phrases ready, so you can ask questions anytime.

In a meeting, you can check information in two ways:

  • ask for clarification
  • ask for confirmation

Asking for clarification

business meeting questions

It’s very common to be lost in a meeting in English. Believe me, it’s not just you.

When you have not understood something you can ask the other person to clarify. Then, they can explain what they said with different words.

For example, your boss has just explained a new order process to you, but you didn’t fully understand how it works. You want him to explain it again.

We are often afraid of looking stupid if we ask for clarification. But the opposite is true! It’s really important to ask questions.

Luckily, we can ask good questions in a polite way. This way, you will understand the information better the second time.

Here are some polite questions and phrases you can use to ask for clarification:

  • Could you possibly clarify…
  • Could we go over that again?
  • Just to be (absolutely) clear…
  • Could you simplify what you just said about …?
  • One thing I wasn’t sure of was…
  • Could you rephrase your last point?

Asking for confirmation

ask questions in business in english

It also happens that you are not sure if you understood correctly.

For instance, when a lot of information has been said too quickly.

Other times, the details of the meeting are so important that you really need to check again, e.g. details such as numbers, as you saw in the video above about the order.

In those situations, you make sure you understood correctly and ask the other person to confirm what they said.

If you find yourself in such a business situation, you can check information by saying:

  • I just want to make (absolutely) sure that…
  • Did I understand correctly that …?
  • If I understood correctly, you are saying …?
  • In other words, you will …?
  • Am I right in thinking that…?
  • I just want to check…

Questions - Asking for confirmation

Let’s practice: Ask English questions in business

Fill in the gaps in the phrases below using the 12 phrases I presented to you.

  1. Mr. Parker, I just want to make absolutely ____  we get the order right for you and have the correct number of books.
  2. I just ______ to check whether I should continue working on the campaign?
  3. Could we go over that again?
  4. Good. One _____  I wasn’t sure of was whether we should order new berries – I know there are some in stock, but…
  5. Could you possibly _____  what went out in today’s delivery to Mr. Charles of Greenlight Enterprises?
  6. _____  you simplify what you just said?
  7. Great, and just to _____  absolutely clear, you will send the blue covers, not the plastic ones?
  8. Did I __________  correctly that you are leaving the company?
  9. If I understood correctly, you _____  saying that the order was wrong?
  10. In other _____, you will come up with a new Marketing strategy?
  11. Am I _____  in thinking that you want to change the whole website?
  12. Could you rephrase your last _____?

Read also: Business English Idioms You Should Know

Business English Vocabulary

Answer key:

  1. Mr. Parker, I just want to make absolutely sure we get the order right for you and have the correct number of books.
  2. I just want to check whether I should continue working on the campaign?
  3. Could we go over that again?
  4. Good. One thing I wasn’t sure of was whether we should order new berries – I know there are some in stock, but…
  5. Could you possibly clarify what went out in today’s delivery to Mr. Charles of Greenlight Enterprises?
  6. Could you simplify what you just said?
  7. Great, and just to be absolutely clear, you will send the blue covers, not the plastic ones?
  8. Did I understand correctly that you are leaving the company?
  9. If I understood correctly, you are saying that the order was wrong?
  10. In other words, you will come up with a new Marketing strategy?
  11. Am I right in thinking that you want to change the whole website?
  12. Could you rephrase your last point?


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