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Demanding Explanations

Sometimes, things happen that we would like explained and we must demand explanations. For example, if you have just bought a new computer and there is a problem, but the shop assistant says that the guaranty does not cover the problem. There are a number of formulas used when demanding explanations in English. Here are some of the most common:

  • Can you tell me why...
  • I don't understand why...
  • Can you explain why..
  • Why is it that...
  • How come...
  • Does this mean...
  • Do you really expect me to believe...

After you study these constructions, take the demanding explanations quiz to check your understanding.

Construction
Formula Verb Form

Can you tell me why it has taken you so long to respond?

Use 'Can you tell me why' a full clause in the positive statement form (S V O). Notice that this is an indirect question and requires a question mark (?).

I don't understand why it has taken you so long to respond.

Use 'I don't understand why' a full clause in the positive statement form (S V O). Notice that this is a statement and does NOT require a question mark (?)

Can you explain why it has taken you so long to respond?

Use 'Can you explain why' a full clause in the positive statement form (S V O). Notice that this is an indirect question and requires a question mark (?).

Why is it that it has taken you so long to respond?

Use 'Why is it that' a full clause in the positive statement form (S V O). Notice that this is an indirect question and requires a question mark (?).

How come it has taken you so long to respond?

Use 'How come' a full clause in the positive statement form (S V O). Notice that this is an indirect question and requires a question mark (?).

Does this mean (that) it has taken you so long to respond?

Use 'Does this mean (that)' a full clause in the positive statement form (S V O). Notice that this is an indirect question and requires a question mark (?).

Do you (really) expect me to belive (that) you weren't able to finish on time?

Use 'Do you (really) expect me to belive (that)' a full clause in the positive statement form (S V O). Notice that this is an indirect question and requires a question mark (?).

Contrasting Ideas

Making Complaints

Asking for Information

Giving Advice

Guessing

Being Imprecise or Vague

Saying 'No' Nicely

Showing Preferences

Making Suggestions

Offering Help

Giving Warning

Demanding Explanations

More Grammar Help

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