Giving yourself time to think

When people ask you questions, you often need time to think before you reply. Or perhaps you don’t know the answer or the information is confidential.

Here are some ways in which you can pause for thought or block questions..

That’s a very interesting question.

That’s a very interesting question. Let me think about it for a minute.

I’m glad you’ve asked that question.

I’m glad you have asked that question. This is what we know about that.

A good question.

A good question. We still have a lot of research to do.

I’m sorry but I don’t have that information to hand.

I’m sorry but I don’t have that information to hand. I will email you later.

Can I get back to you about that?

I’m afraid I don’t have that information to hand. Can I get back to you about that?

I’m afraid I can’t answer that.

I’m afraid I can’t answer that. I don’t know enough about it. You really need to speak to Steven about that.

I’m not in a position to comment on that.

I’m not in a position to comment on that. I’m afraid that information is still confidential. What I can say is that we will be holding a press conference next Tuesday.

As I said earlier, …

As I said earlier, we don’t know for sure what caused the leak. We are still investigating.

I think I answered that when I said …

I think I answered that when I said that we were still investigating the problem.

I did mention that.

I did mention that earlier. I said that we were still looking for a solution.

I don’t see the connection.

I don’t see the connection to what we are talking about. That seems to me to be a completely different issue.

I’m sorry, I don’t follow you.

I’m sorry, I don’t follow you. What exactly do you mean?

I think that is a very different issue.

I think that is a very different issue. Safety is one thing and protecting the environment is something else.

exercise 1

exercise 2

exercise 3

14 thoughts on “Giving yourself time to think”

  1. Thank you very much. Greatly useful and needed material and patterns; the excrcises are great and interesting to practice, as well.

  2. I am an ESL teacher who appreciates your offerings here and your wisdom. I have a question on one of your sentences in the above lesson “Giving yourself time to think”. The sentence in question is “I’m sorry, but I don’t have that information to hand.” I am not sure if this reflects a difference in American and British English, but would it not be more correct to state: ” I’m sorry, but I don’t have that information at hand.” The phrase “at hand” indicates the information is not readily available at this time. I believe it could also be stated as “I’m sorry, but I don’t have that information on hand.” The phrase “on hand” also indicates the information is not readily available at this time. I am just looking for clarification on this small issue, since it is highly possible that British English uses this phrase and American English does not. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi there. I am always interested to hear about differences between BE and AE. However, I have just checked this out in an online American dictionary and found this –

      to hand
      1. Nearby.
      2. In one’s possession.

      And Merriam-Webster has

      — to hand
      1
      : into possession 2
      : within reach

      So, while this might not be an expression that you yourself use, it does seem to be a standard expression in AE.

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