Understanding Wordy Questions

Sometimes native speakers ask very wordy questions. This happens a lot when we are nervous, uncertain, or still thinking about what we want to say.

Wordy question: “Could you please tell me if you have any idea about when the deadline for submitting the assignment might be?”

Concise question
: “Do you know the assignment deadline?”

How to spot wordy questions

We often add extra words simply to be polite. 
• Hand me that iPad. 
• Would you please hand me that iPad? 
• Would you mind handing me that iPad please? 

Sometimes we are worried about bothering the other person. 
• Would you move over please? 
• I hate to bother you, but if you don’t mind, could you possibly move over just a little bit? 

Other times we are nervous and repeat ourselves or add extra words in the middle. 
• Do you want to have dinner with me? 
• I was wondering if maybe, and you don’t have to say yes, but if you aren’t doing anything tonight, that maybe you would want to have dinner or something with me. 

And some people … well, some people just talk too much. 

Whatever the reason, the best thing to do is listen for how the person is speaking and try to pick out the key words. 


1. Wordy question: “I was wondering if it would be possible for you to let me know if there is any chance that the meeting could maybe be rescheduled to a different date?”

Concise question: “Can the meeting be rescheduled?”

2. Wordy question: “I was just wondering if you happen to have any spare time available this afternoon for a brief discussion regarding the project?”

Concise question: “Do you have time for a brief project discussion this afternoon?”

3. Wordy question: “I would like to inquire if you would be able to provide me with some guidance on how to improve my presentation ability.”

Concise question: “Can you help me improve my presentation ability?”

Do you need help understanding native speakers? Book a lesson today, and let’s start practicing! 

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