Home / English Lessons / Intonation: Requesting Clarification or Repetition | Part 4 | English Pronunciation Lesson

Intonation: Requesting Clarification or Repetition | Part 4 | English Pronunciation Lesson

This lesson is from the Elemental English pronunciation series on Intonation:

Watch the video lesson:

…or listen to the audio while you read!:


As was explained in the Introduction to Intonation lesson, the musical patterns of ups and downs in your speech–in both the middle and end of your sentences–is called intonation.

In English, there are three intonation patterns:

  1. Rise  arrow 5
  2. Full fall arrow 6 copy
  3. Partial fall arrow 6 copy 2 

These different musical patterns communicate different messages to your listener.

Requesting Clarification or Repetition

As an English language learner, you may sometimes have a hard time understanding a speaker. If you don’t understand everything that was said, you can use the rising intonation to let the speaker know that you require clarification.


  • X: “I think I’ll go to the door.”  arrow 6 copy
  • Y: “You’ll go to the store?” arrow 5
  • X: “No. The door.”  arrow 6 copy   (Notice that the intonation goes down when finishing a statement.)

Did you hear how my voice went up on the word “store”? I used the rising intonation to tell my listener that I’m not sure that I understood that specific word, and that I require repetition or clarification.

Listen and Repeat

  • X: “I can’t go without food.” arrow 6 copy
  • Y: “You can?” arrow 5
  • X: “No. I can’t.” arrow 6 copy

Notice that even though “can” is a function word, which I usually de-stress, here I stressed it to request clarification. (See also the lesson on can vs. can’t)


  • X: “You should turn left on First Street.” arrow 6 copy
  • Y: “On Fourth Street?” arrow 5
  • X: “No. On First Street.” arrow 6 copy


Sentences you can use to request clarification or repetition with the rising intonation if you don’t understand a speaker include the following.

Listen and Repeat

  • “I’m sorry?” arrow 5
  • “Excuse me?” arrow 5
  • “What was that?” arrow 5
  • “Could you repeat that please?” arrow 5 (notice that [d] + [y] –> [dʒ])

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Elemental English podcast on iTunes.

And if this lesson was helpful to you, feel free to share it with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter

ElementalEnglish.com is your resource for free English language and pronunciation lessons, 無料オンライン英語教材, 免费在线英文课程, 免費在線英文課程, मुफ़्त ऑनलाइन अंग्रेज़ी, آنلائن مفت میں انگریزی سیکھئے, Kostenloser Englisch-Unterricht Online, Język angielski online, Học tiếng anh miễn phí, Libreng Pag-aaral ng Wikang Ingles sa Internet, Libreng Pag-aaral ng Wikang Ingles Online, دروس في اللغة الانجليزية على الانترنت مجانا, American English pronunciation, アメリカ英語の発音, 纯正美语发音, 純正美語發音, अमरीकी अंग्रेज़ी, امریکی انگریزی کا تلفّظ سیکھئے, Amerikanisches Englisch Aussprache, wymowa język angielski, Học tiếng anh miễn phí, Wastong Pagbigkas ng American English sa Internet, astong Pagbigkas ng, تعلم اللهجة الامريكية على الانترنت, American English Online


  1. Nihat Satıroğlu

    Thanks for everything, it was big problem pronunciation in English

Leave a Reply

WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.