American Business English

American Business English :

Can You Say That Again?

LUKE : Hello? Hi, Stephanie, how are things at the office?

STEPHANIE : Hi, Luke! How are you? Can you please stop and pick up extra paper for the computer printer?

LUKE : What did you say? Can you repeat that, please? Did you say to pick up ink for the printer? Sorry, the phone is cutting out.

STEPHANIE : Can you hear me now? No, I need more computer paper. Listen, I’ll text you exactly what I need. Thanks, Luke. Talk to you later.

LUKE : Thanks, Stephanie. Sorry, my phone has really bad reception here.


There are a few ways to express a lack of understanding and to request additional information. The most common ones are stated, but you can also say “Excuse me" or simply “I can’t hear you." In a more formal situation, try saying “I’m sorry?" or “I beg your pardon?" (with a rising intonation).

When asking someone to clarify information try saying Can you please repeat that? / Can you spell that for me? / Can you please write down the address for me?

Cutting out describes a difficulty in understanding a caller due to poor cellphone reception. If you are having trouble understanding the caller, you can also say The line is breaking up / I am losing you. If the phone call is disconnected because of poor reception, you can say The call dropped.

Talk to you later is the equivalent in a phone conversation of “See you later" in a regular, face-to-face conversation.

Reception here means the availability of cellular service, the possibility to receive and give calls on a cellphone. Cellphone reception can be limited in remote areas, inside large buildings or underground (in the subway, for instance).

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