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In Italian, if somebody told me what they did, and I would say Hai fatto cosa? (You did what?), it would be probably understood as I am asking to repeat what they did.

How would You did what? be understood, in English?

  • "What (exactly) you understood?" would be better in my opinion. "You did what?" sounds aggressive and he/she would think that made something bad that have nothing to do with the previous conversation. – koleygr Sep 26 '18 at 13:39
  • What exactly did you understand? is probably a question the other person should ask me. I cannot ask that if I am listening the other person. – kiamlaluno Sep 26 '18 at 13:44
  • [A] I went out with your sister. [B] What exactly did you understand? – kiamlaluno Sep 26 '18 at 13:45
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    You did what? is fine. (Or, I'm sorry—you did what? if you want to address possible issues around politeness. Although tone of voice should be fine for that.) As would be Could you repeat that (please)? But asking What did you understand? is extremely strange. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 26 '18 at 13:52
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    9 times out of 10, You did what? would have heavy stress on the highlighted final word. And it wouldn't be so much a request to repeat / clarify what you did - it would be an exclamation / rhetorical question from someone who heard what you said, but was expressing surprise / disappointment / admiration / etc. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 26 '18 at 14:53
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The usual way to ask someone to repeat something, whether it's because you didn't understand or couldn't hear, does not depend on what they said. A very common way of doing it, though it is considered rude by many, is simply to say "What?"

If you don't want to risk being thought rude, a very polite way of doing it is to say "I'm sorry, could you repeat that, please?"

There's a lot in between. "Pardon?", "I beg your pardon?", "Beg pardon?", "Excuse me?", "Sorry?", and plenty more. Preferences will depend on dialect.

If you were to simply ask "you did what?" when someone has told you what they did, it would usually be said in certain tones, and expresses incredulity at what they told you, rather than just asking them to say it again because you didn't catch it. It might mean you literally have trouble believing it, or that you believe it but you are angry about it.

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'Hai fatto cosa'

If the intent is to have them say it again, or you didn't understand or hear what they said, etc.

Could say:

  • "What?"
  • "What did you do?" or "What'd you do?"
  • "What'd you say?"
  • "Say that again?"
  • "Pardon?"
  • "You did what? .. sorry I didn't hear/understand/etc"

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