10 Polite Ways to Say “Please Explain”

Have you not fully understood something and want someone to explain it further to help you? A phrase like “please explain” might seem appropriate, but more polite alternatives are available.

This article has gathered the best synonyms for “please explain.” We will show you how to ask someone to explain further without upsetting them.

  • Could you please explain?
  • Do you mind explaining?
  • Could you please clarify?
  • I don’t quite understand
  • I’m sorry, but could you try to explain it further?
  • I think I missed something, so could you explain it?
  • I’m sorry, but I need you to explain it to me
  • Please repeat that
  • Would you mind going through that?
  • I’m not following, so could you help me?

Keep reading to learn more about how to ask for further explanation in an email. There are plenty of great alternatives, and we’ve included an example for each one.

1. Could You Please Explain?

You can always start by asking a question to get someone to explain something to you. “Could you please explain?” is a great example of a polite question that will encourage people to go into more detail.

It’s a great demonstration of how to ask someone to explain something in emails. It shows that you’d like to learn more about what they’ve spoken about, but you might need some guidance.

You can also refer to the following example to help you:

Dear Mr. Tate,

Could you please explain what you mean by this? I’m afraid the information doesn’t make much sense.

Kind regards,

2. Do You Mind Explaining?

Another great question-based alternative is “do you mind explaining?” Usually, you will include more after the original question to be more specific. For instance:

  • Do you mind explaining what you mean by that?

The question “do you mind explaining?” on its own might seem a bit abrupt and rude. You should keep it polite by including more information to let someone know what you want them to explain.

Why not refer to the following example to give you a hand:

Dear Jonathan,

Do you mind explaining your expectations for me? I’m keen to hear more about what you want to get from this.

All the best,

3. Could You Please Clarify?

Knowing how to ask for clarification politely is simple with a question like “could you please clarify?” It shows that you’d like someone to add further information to something by “clarifying” what they mean.

Here’s an example to show you how it works:

Dear Ms. Browne,

Could you please clarify whether this is correct? It doesn’t make much sense to me, but I might be missing something.


4. I Don’t Quite Understand

Not every synonym is a question, though. A statement like “I don’t quite understand” is a great way to get someone to explain something thoroughly.

It shows that you aren’t following along with whatever they’re explaining. If you don’t understand, there’s not much point in them continuing until they’ve explained what they’ve previously discussed. It’s a great choice if you want someone to review points again.

If you’re still stumped, take a look at the following example:

Dear Alexia,

I don’t quite understand what you want me to take away from this. Could you please tell me more?

All the best,

5. I’m Sorry, but Could You Try to Explain It Further?

We always encourage starting a polite phrase with “I’m sorry” when it fits. It’s a great way to remain polite and apologetic, showing that you would like to understand something but need more help to do so.

The next part is a question, which is “but could you try to explain it further?” It’s a great way to find out more from someone in a polite way. It’s not a rude question, so it works well in many contexts.

This email sample will help you understand it better:

Dear Mr. Parkinson,

I’m sorry, but could you try to explain it further? I’m still not certain about a few of the points raised.

All the best,

6. I Think I Missed Something, so Could You Explain It?

Let’s say you’ve just had a meeting and were taking some notes. Perhaps you missed something vital, and your notes don’t currently make sense. That’s where “I think I missed something, so could you explain it?” comes in.

It’s a great alternative to “please explain” because it shows that you’d like some guidance. It’s professional and allows someone to explain more about something if you’ve missed a few important pieces of information.

Here is a sample email to show you how to use it:

Dear Albert,

I think I missed something, so could you explain it? My meeting notes aren’t making a lot of sense.


7. I’m Sorry, but I Need You to Explain It to Me

You can also use “I’m sorry, but I need you to explain it to me” as a polite alternative to “please explain.” It’s a great option if you want to be professional and respectful of someone’s knowledge.

“I need you to explain it to me” is a bit of a demanding statement, though. So, you should only use it when talking to your boss or someone who might know more about something than you (since they’ll be able to help explain it better than most).

Also, this example should help you understand it:

Dear Ms. Hope,

I’m sorry, but I need you to explain it to me. Is there something I’m missing from the original transcript?

Kind regards,

8. Please Repeat That

A more casual alternative comes with “please repeat that.” It’s a subtle choice that still remains polite and friendly when you ask someone for more information.

We recommend using it when emailing colleagues who might be able to fill in some gaps. It shows that you don’t quite grasp what they’re talking about. So, they might need to run through it again or “repeat” themselves.

Check out the following example email to help you understand it:

Dear Oliver,

Please repeat that for me. I understand the basics, but I have a few problems with the finer details.

Kind regards,

9. Would You Mind Going Through That?

“Would you mind going through that?” is a question that replaces “please explain” well. You can use it when asking colleagues to run through something with you.

Starting the question with “would you mind” is very polite and professional. You should use it when you want to show respect towards someone when asking for their help.

This email sample should clarify how it works:

Dear Uma,

Would you mind going through that with me? I can’t start working on the project until I understand what you want from me.

Best wishes,

10. I’m Not Following, so Could You Help Me?

You can break this phrase into two parts. First, you can start with “I’m not following.” This means you do not understand something and cannot comprehend what someone means.

“So could you help me?” is the second part of the phrase. It shows you would appreciate someone’s help when trying to follow information. Then, you can ask what they know to see if they can help you go from “I’m not following” to “I understand you now.”

You can also refer to this example to help you:

Dear Mrs. Pinkett,

I’m not following, so could you help me? I have attached the file in question, and I would appreciate some feedback.

Thank you,