S1E10: Polite Answers with Embedded Questions

S1E10: Polite Answers with Embedded Questions

Welcome to the final episode of Season 1 of the Small Talk Audio Course. In this lesson we’ll look at polite answers which can include the question embedded in the answer. This is often used in more formal speech.

Some common expressions/verbs used when embedding a statement include:

  • I don’t know…
  • I’m not sure…
  • I don’t remember…
  • Let’s find out…
  • I wonder…

For example: “I wonder if it will rain today.”

“Let’s find out how much their budget is.”

Structure – Polite expression + Question word/if/whether + Subject + Verb.

Sometimes people will ask questions which we are not sure of.

Rather than appear rude and simply shrug off their enquiry with “I don’t know”, we can embed the answer into the question for a more polite answer.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Polite question – “Do you know if Mike spoke to the client yesterday?”

Polite answer – “Sorry, I’m not sure if he did that.”

Polite question – “Could you please tell me who the team leader for this project was?”

Polite answer – “I’m afraid I don’t know who the team leader was.”

As with the questions, the information is embedded so the word order follows that of an affirmative statement. (Subject first, followed by verb).


Business settings aren’t the only place where embedded questions are used. Choose a situation from the list below and try to think of embedded questions you might ask in such a situation.

  • At a tourist information office
  • On your first day at a new school
  • Enquiring about a property which is on the market
  • At a train station

Well, that’s all from me. If you have any questions, you can post them in the comments section or subscribe to Intrepid English where you can book a one-to-one lesson with any of our teachers. I’m Kate, Senior English Teacher and Head of Creative here at Intrepid English, and thank you for listening to this podcast. 

Thank you for listening to this original audio course from Intrepid English. To access your free downloadable worksheets and transcripts that accompany this course, click on the link in the episode notes.

This content was written and recorded by Intrepid English Teacher Kate B.

You can find out more about Kate B on her Intrepid English Teacher Profile Page.

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