When something doesn’t make sense to you, it can be tricky to think of what to say. You don’t want to embarrass yourself, but you also want to politely let someone know that they haven’t explained something well. This article will explore some good alternatives you can use.
Other ways to say “that doesn’t make sense” are “I don’t understand,” “this makes no sense,” and “it’s not as simple as that.” These are great phrases to be concise and let someone know that you’re struggling to understand what they’re explaining to you.
1. I Don’t Understand
“I don’t understand” gets right to the point and shows that you don’t fully understand or comprehend something. It gives the person you’re speaking to a chance to explain themselves more concisely.
- I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me. Is there not a chance that you can explain it more familiarly?
- I don’t understand. Why are you saying these things? They don’t make an ounce of sense, and I don’t know how to handle this.
- I don’t understand. It’s not going to be made clear with a simple video presentation. I need you to run me through it.
2. This Makes No Sense
“This makes no sense” is a great alternative you can use. It shows that you do not understand something informally. “Makes no sense” shows someone you’re not following along with what they’re explaining.
- This makes no sense at all. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what you’re trying to tell me here. I’m sorry to be a nuisance.
- This makes no sense. I’m not cut out for a job like this. I need things to be spoon-fed to me if I want to get things right.
- This makes no sense. It seems like a foreign language. Did you understand all of this the first time you went through it?
3. It’s Not as Simple as That
“It’s not as simple as that” shows that someone has tried to oversimplify a problem. If you do not believe the problem can be oversimplified, you should use this phrase. It shows that you require more of an explanation before you can understand something.
- It’s not as simple as that, is it? I get what you’re trying to say, but I think you’ve underemphasized the important details here.
- It’s not as simple as that. I know you’re trying to explain it to me, but it just isn’t going in. Try again, please.
- It’s not as simple as that, which is why so many people are struggling. I think you should change your approach to figure it out.
4. I Don’t Get It
“I don’t get it” is a direct and informal way to show that you do not understand something. It works well when you are speaking to a friend who is trying to help you understand something. You could use this phrase after their explanation if it didn’t help to explain the problem.
- I don’t get it. Why would anyone want to go through a class filled with all of this stuff? Surely, there are better options.
- I don’t get it. It’s so hard to follow along with what you’re saying. You need to slow down with your explanations.
- I don’t get it at all. What else can you say to help me figure this out? I don’t mean to come across as stupid.
5. I’m Not Sure What You Mean
“I’m not sure what you mean” is a direct way to show that you didn’t understand someone. If they tried to explain something to you, but you did not understand any of it, this phrase is going to work well.
- I’m not sure what you mean by any of this. Please, try and explain it in your own words. Maybe that’ll help me figure it out.
- I’m not sure what you mean. I thought all of the systems were already sorted. Why are you telling me all this now?
- I’m not sure what you mean. I thought you had a handle on all of this. I don’t know how I’m supposed to help you now.
6. Are You Sure About That?
“Are you sure about that?” is a great question synonym you can use that allows you to question someone’s explanation. It shows that you don’t understand something because you think someone else messed up their explanation.
- Are you sure about that? It doesn’t seem to make any sense right now. I think we need to re-evaluate the things we’re discussing.
- Are you sure about that? I’m not following the information you’re presenting. You lost me a few minutes ago, I’m afraid.
- Are you sure about that? There must be something else that we can do now, right? Something that works better for all of us.
7. What Are You Saying?
“What are you saying?” is another solid question choice. You can use this if you are trying to get someone to explain something because it sounds like nonsense. It’s a bit harsher to use this question, but it still gets the job done.
- What are you saying? These things don’t seem to work together. I need them to synergize before presenting my findings.
- What are you saying? There seem to be some errors, but I think you’re talking me through them as if they’re correct.
- What are you saying? I’m really sorry, but it makes no sense to me. I would like you to come at it from a different angle.
8. Can You Phrase It Another Way?
“Can you phrase it another way?” is an excellent question that encourages someone to think outside the box with their explanation. It gives them a chance to think things through before explaining what they want to tell you.
- Can you phrase it another way? Is there anything else you might be able to say that’ll help me figure it out?
- Can you phrase it another way? I might be asking a lot here, but I really don’t get what you’re trying to tell me about.
- Can you phrase it another way? I’m not sure what you mean at all. I want to help, but I’m a bit stumped right now.
9. I’m Not Sure I Follow
“I’m not sure I follow” is a great way to sound unsure about something. It lets someone know that you might need further clarification without being too forward about it. “I’m not sure” is a good way to introduce the sentence politely.
- I’m not sure I follow. Have you made all the correct calculations? Something isn’t adding up here, and I’ve tried it multiple times.
- I’m not sure I follow. There is no reason for you to be explaining most of this stuff to me. Maybe you should fix that.
- I’m not sure I follow. We have got to ensure we’re on the same page before we move on from this. Do you think you can do that for me?
10. I Don’t Know What You Want Me to Say
“I don’t know what you want me to say” is a specific alternative you can use. It works when someone asks you to answer a question about something you don’t understand.
Use it when you have no idea how to answer the question because they explained something poorly.
- I don’t know what you want me to say. I haven’t understood a word about this presentation. I can’t answer your question.
- I don’t know what you want me to say. There is no reason for me to talk about this. It just seems like you’re speaking gibberish.
- I don’t know what you want me to say. Get on top of it and find an actual solution. I can’t wait around forever.
11. Are You Sure?
“Are you sure?” is a great question alternative you can use. It shows that you’re unsure if someone has the correct answer because you are confused by the information they’ve provided. This helps the other person to evaluate whether they’re correct.
- I feel like you’ve missed something. You seemed to skip over a point a few minutes ago. Are you sure?
- Are you sure? I think you should look back over your notes. You’ve definitely missed a vital piece of information here.
- Are you sure? I will not submit any of this until we’ve ironed out all the kinks. This makes no sense to me.
12. Can You Help Me Understand This?
“Can you help me understand this?” is a great way to encourage someone to explain something to you in a more familiar way. It helps them to think of a better way to phrase something to help you out.
- Can you help me understand this? I’ve tried to do it myself, but I’m just not getting it. I would like you to explain what you mean.
- Can you help me understand this? I thought I had it under control, but it appears that I’m a bit stuck right now.
- Can you help me understand this? She wasn’t very clear in her explanation. Maybe you have a better way of talking about it.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.