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When I explain something to my friend and I want to make sure they got what I said, what should I say?

  • "Do you understand?"
  • "Did you understand?"
  • "Have you understood?"

etc.

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All of the answers seem condescending or confrontational. How do teachers do it? –  Mitch Mar 31 '11 at 14:06
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@Mitch: "Any questions?" –  MrHen Mar 31 '11 at 14:59
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Any of the examples you provided would work, but note that they could appear condescending depending on the context - like you were speaking to your friend as if you were expecting him not to understand at all.

Something more informal and deferential, at least in the United States, would be did you get all of that? or can I make anything more clear?

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Indeed, or even does that make sense? –  Ed Guiness Mar 31 '11 at 12:17
    
Even more informally, you can say see? or OK?. –  Jason Orendorff Mar 31 '11 at 12:23
    
Got it? also comes to mind. –  HaL Mar 31 '11 at 12:25
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@Kiam Ahem, You are Italian - I was not referring to Italy at all ;) Capisce is American slang, used extensively in Mafia films and TV series –  mplungjan Mar 31 '11 at 21:17
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@Kiam Stubborn Much? books, 1950-2008 | Urban Dictionary | online slang dictionary | wiktionary –  mplungjan Apr 1 '11 at 14:16
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Any of these. Colloquially, the question is most commonly

Understand?

and the reply

Understood.

You can also ask

Understood?

and this has a slightly different connotation from "Understand?", but I'm struggling to work out what the difference is. I'll come back and edit this if I work it out.

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The most common colloquially where I am from is "does that make sense?" or "make sense?" It is less confrontational than "understand" (maybe it implies that, if the listener doesn't understand, it is because the speaker was not making any sense). –  Kosmonaut Mar 31 '11 at 12:01
    
@Cosmonaut: Yes, I think you're right. I think the use of "understand?" (and even more, "understood?"), though colloquial, is only used when there is a power relationship - the higher status talking to the lower. –  Colin Fine Mar 31 '11 at 15:41
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