12 Other Ways to Say “Could You Please Explain”

Do you need someone to go into more detail or explain something to you again?

Perhaps you’re worried that “could you please explain” will make you look stupid or informal.

Well, you’re in luck!

This article will explore alternatives to show you how to ask someone to explain something in an email.

Other Ways to Say “Could You Please Explain”

  • Can you please elaborate on that?
  • I’m going to need more detail
  • Would you mind giving a clearer explanation?
  • Could you provide more details?
  • Can you shed some light on this matter?
  • Could you go into further detail?
  • Would you be able to clarify this for me?
  • Can you break this down a bit more?
  • Could you provide additional context?
  • Would you kindly provide a more detailed account?
  • Can you paint a clearer picture for me?
  • Could you offer a more elaborate explanation, if possible?


  • “Could you please explain” is a great way to ask for clarification when you don’t quite understand something.
  • Try “can you please elaborate on that?” as a formal synonym that shows you need more information.
  • “I’m going to need more detail” is a great informal phrase that works well in most emails.

Keep reading to learn how to say “could you please explain” professionally. We’ve touched on the best formal and informal options to help you.

Also, if you already know how to politely ask for an explanation, you may want to read the final section. Then, you’ll learn if “could you please explain” is correct to include in the first place.

Can You Please Elaborate on That? (Formal)

You can use “can you please elaborate on that?” as another way to say “could you please explain?”

It’s much more professional and direct. It shows the recipient that you still need them to explain a few things before you fully understand what they’re talking about.

Asking someone to “elaborate” typically means you don’t get what they’ve said the first time. You might require deeper explanations about something before you can understand it.

That’s okay! All you have to do is ask, after all.

So, try using it when emailing a professor. It’s a great way to let them know that you need more of an explanation before understanding what they’re talking about.

If you’re still unsure, you can refer to this email sample:

Dear Dr. Maurice,

Can you please elaborate on that when you have time? I’m not sure if I understand what you’re getting at.

All the best,
Greta Blessing

I’m Going to Need More Detail (Informal)

If you’re looking to sound slightly more informal, you can write “I’m going to need more detail.”

It’s a great way to stay more conversational and friendly. This keeps things a bit more light-hearted in your emails when you’d like to ask for an explanation.

For instance, you can use it when asking a coworker to explain more about something.

They might have shared some information, but you still don’t fully understand what it meant. So, asking for an explanation with this phrase lets them know that you’d like them to try again.

You may also want to review this email sample:

Hi Clark,

I’m going to need more detail, I’m afraid! I think I know what you’re saying, but I want you to clarify some parts!

Trudy Mathews

Is It Correct to Say “Could You Please Explain”?

It is correct to say “could you please explain.” There’s nothing wrong with including it in a formal email.

Generally, if you don’t think someone explained something thoroughly enough, this is a good phrase to use. It’s polite and shows you’d appreciate it if someone could help you.

For example:

Dear Damian,

Could you please explain what you mean by this? I’m not sure if I’m understanding your point of view.

All the best,
Joe Dunkirk

More often than not, the recipient will be happy to explain the situation again. After all, you’ve asked nicely, and you simply want another explanation to see if you understand them.

You may also use the following variation:

  • Can you please explain?

Generally, using “can” instead of “could” is more informal. It’s a good way to ask your friends or coworkers to explain something to you when you need them to.

We also recommend reviewing these extensions to show you other ways to ask for further explanation in an email:

  • Could you please explain in more detail
  • Could you please explain further
  • Could you please explain the reason why

Each of the extensions above allows you to be more specific. They ask a specific and direct question that shows you’d like to learn more about someone’s explanation.