"Can you elaborate?" to a teacher?


Senior Member
Can a student say "Can you elaborate?" to a teacher when the student did not understand what the teacher has just explained with a good length?

I think "Can you elaborate?" is something that is said during a presentation at work, such as when you are interested in the idea and want to know more about it before they gave you much detail. Saying that to a teacher especially after the teacher has given enough detail does not sound right to me, but I wonder if any native speaker shares that feeling with me.

Thank you.
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    You are correct, you only say that when you want more detail than has been provided already, not because you didn't understand.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Some teachers might consider this insufficiently deferential, framed, as it is, almost as an instruction.

    Could you elaborate, please? would be entirely acceptable, I think.

    Teachers' stock in trade is to say the same thing in different ways, so I'd be happy with the request.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    It sounds wrong for two reasons.

    1. It doesn't sound polite.

    2. It doesn't make sense. If someone speaks very briefly about a subject then you can ask them to elaborate - that is you ask for a lengthier more detailed description. However in your scenario the teacher has already explained at length and so they have already elaborated.

    What precisely do you want the teacher to do?
    < Previous | Next >