I manage a technical group and I was having a discussion with one of the lead guys who is learning a new technology and when I was explaining a few things, he kept using the word "Right" to confirm his understanding.

At the time I could not tell if he was confirming the correctness of what I was saying or simply his understanding of it. When I asked him if he already knew what I was talking about. He said "no" and then we got into a discussion about what the correct word should be to confirm understanding.

I suggested that using the word "Right" was misleading and depending on inflection could be considered egotistical and/or give of the wrong message (as it did for me in this case). He of course disagreed.

Then again he could have just wanted me to shut up :)

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    I think the argument is not worth the candle. Ask him what he means by the expression and then accept that as the meaning. It is quite likely that "Right" is regional or commonly used among his friends and family. I don't think you should get too picky about other people's mannerisms - you're not there to teach English. ;-) P.S. When I lived in Bradford, Yorkshire, they used to say "while" to mean what I meant by "until". I just got used to it. I'm pretty sure they got used to me too. – chasly - supports Monica Jul 2 '20 at 23:50
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    I respond with right to signal to somebody else that I have heard them, not necessarily that I've understood or agreed with what they've said … (If I need clarification, or to state my own opinion, I follow up with that when it's my turn to talk.) – Jason Bassford Jul 2 '20 at 23:53
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    I'm from Australia and that is a common way to respond, indicating that the listener has got the message and understands. It's certainly not a judgement about the correctness of what's being said by the speaker. Just a regional thing, I guess. – ralph.m Jul 3 '20 at 0:10
  • Thanks for input. I think it was more about the inflection that ultimately confused me and why I asked for clarification from him. – Mick Jul 3 '20 at 0:59
  • "depending on inflection could be considered egotistical and/or give of the wrong message" - This is probably true of most words. – nnnnnn Jul 3 '20 at 1:12

It is appropriate to use the gentle question "Understand?" to inquire whether the listener understands what you are saying or have just said. It leads down a long dark trail to say "Right?" over and over until they have to tell you that they lost you some miles back.

Asking for their understanding then at some point if they do not understand satisfactorily they will put you right and you can then begin a finer grained description of your topic.


If you are to go with the literal meaning of the word, "Right" is a wrong fit over here even if you don't consider the nuance. However, not everyone needs to be careful about using the appropriate word every time. If someone is habituated to using a particular response, (s)he probably doesn't give a second thought to the dictionary meaning of the word being used.

I too have used "Right" and "Correct" in response sometimes, when I am just agreeing to other person's statement. And if I were to think what it would literally imply, ("Your statement is right/correct.") I would not have used it there, because that is something I would save for a case in which I have considered the statement I'm replying to, objectively and from multiple perspectives and still consider it to be correct. But since I don't put as much thought while having an oral conversation, I just use the word.

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