Do what?

When somebody has said something you didn’t quite hear or didn’t really understand, are you more likely to say:

  1. Huh?

  2. Excuse me?

  3. Say again?

  4. I’m sorry?

  5. What was that?

  6. Beg pardon?

  7. Would you mind repeating that?

  8. <something else> (please specify)

  1. Come again, please?

Combination of 4 and 5: I’m sorry, what was that?

  1. What was that?
    Or my annoying fave, 8. DO HUH?

8.) What?

  1. Huh? If I feel they are being condescending.
  2. Excuse me? If I’m politely asking to repeat
  3. Say again? If I feel it was a slur
  4. I’m sorry? If I’m being difficult
  5. What was that? If I suspect it was a hostile statement
  6. Beg pardon? If I’m likely to take umbrage.
  7. Would you mind repeating that? Read: Say that to my face, MF

So, all in all, it kinda depends.

Excellent reply. I agree that it varies depending on circumstance and perceived intention(s) of the other person’s utterance.


Is there something you hear others use that you almost never use yourself in the “I didn’t hear that” or “I don’t understand you” situation?

“what” or “huh?” if informal (say, husband and I talking)
“I’m sorry…?” or “sorry, didn’t catch that” if more formal, like work

One of my faves is “Who shot who in the what now?”

Usually, though, I just say, “Sorry, what was that?”

Excellent. I had an uncle who always said, “Shot who the razor?”

Actually this happens all the time since I work with a lot of colleagues whose first language is not English. Usually I would politely say: (1) “I’m sorry. Can you say that again?”, or (2) “I didn’t catch that. Can you repeat?”

Do what?

Doot doo ditty

Talkin bout the boy from New York City

That had better be a rap. If not, make it one.

I have one of those brains that tend to make sense even when there is none to make. So, when I mishear my fiancé, I repeat what I think I heard, with a little weirdness added on purpose.

He: mumble mumble I saw Doreen and she said their mortgage came through
Me: Eh? Dory mourns canine does?

“You did what to who for how many marshmallows?” An old middle school standard.

It’s Manhattan Transfer’s old song.


Sometimes I feel so damn old.

“Were you talking to me? 'Cause I didn’t hear it.”

“I must have mis-heard you. You didn’t offer to sell me a 'possum, did you?”

Righteous. Thanks!

"Who shot who in the what now? or “The what what?” with friends. Usually it’s “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t catch that” at work. I’m excessively polite/apologetic sometimes.