Suppose that someone's trying to avoid, dodge, or hedge at a question, by either:
♦ ignoring the question, even though I wrote it in a letter
♦ answering irrelevantly or a completely different question
♦ or pretending to misunderstand or request clarification.

What are the polite, cordial ways of requesting that my question be answered?

My first try is "Since you didn't answer my question, could you please clarify"?
Yet this sounds too cutting and barbed.

2nd try: "Since you didn't seem to answer my question, ..."
This is less outright, but can do I better?

  • 3
    I didn't find the answer to my question in your response, Aug 8, 2014 at 15:48
  • Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People addresses many similar topics. (Unfortunately, I don't think it addresses this exact topic.) The best editions of the book were published before he died in 1955.
    – Jasper
    Aug 9, 2014 at 5:50

2 Answers 2


Assuming that they did reply to you in some form, but conveniently left out the information you wanted: Try not to accuse them of anything. It's possible they made a mistake. Even if they are being deliberately obtuse, politeness is still in order (to a point).

The main idea is to avoid attributing the action (or non-action) to them. This often sounds accusatory. Instead, phrase it so that you took (or didn't take) the action.

I'm still unclear about a few things. Could you please clarify the number of years of experience you have with...

If there are a large number of questions you need, you could even lay out a series of numbered questions.

Thanks for your reply. In order to [whatever] I'll need some additional information from you. Please answer the following questions in your reply:

  1. Have you ever...

  2. Do you want to...

Getting any more forceful than that requires a bit more knowledge of the context that this is in. It would depend on the social relationship of the involved. For instance, a boss can demand answers succinctly. A potential business partner needs to be more nuanced.


I would not start out by assuming they did not read your question. That would not be polite.
Rather, start out with something like:

I had sent you a question (quote here if you like) but did not see your reply yet. Could you review it and let me know? I will look forward to your response.

Probably there are a lot of ways to say this, but hopefully you get the idea. How formal of course depends on who you are corresponding with.

If it is evasion in fact, you could could say something more to the point, like "I really need your repsonse to my question."

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