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25 Alternatives to “I Don’t Know” and “I Can’t”

There are some phrases tuning in our mood for failure, in particular, “I don’t know” and “I can’t”. By saying so, we accept our own helplessness and show that we are not capable of doing something due to low intelligence or the lack of talent. Interlocutors may build an image of a weak, unprofessional person in their minds and not take us seriously during further conversations. Therefore, it is worth avoiding such phrases to make a good impression on other people.

In addition, changing a vocabulary, you may change your mindset, become more confident and proactive. Thinking, language, and growth are closely interconnected. New patterns should improve your behavior, make you believe that there are no things you can’t do, and it is just necessary to work a bit harder.

Experts from Pro-Papers have prepared the list with 25 alternatives to “I don’t know” and “I can’t” to help you with your custom term paper writing and look at life from a new perspective.

1. I need help with…


This phrase shows that you are not helpless but just need additional resources, and it is quite possible to solve a task under favorable conditions.

2. Before I can answer, I need…

3. Let me find out

If you do not know something, take time to collect information, analyze all pros and cons, and articulate your point of view in the best way possible.

4. I worry about being wrong

It is sometimes useful to inform surrounding people about your feelings. No one can always stay cold-blooded and discard emotions. However, this phrase may be inappropriate at an interview if you want to impress a future boss. It is worth using other options which will show that you are a mature person not allowing one’s mood to influence work-related issues.

5. I can’t…, but I can…

6. I can tell you that…

If you understand that there is no way to fulfill a task, offer something else. If you cannot fill in accounting documents, mention that you can contact good outsource accountants. Do not present this solution as a way to avoid responsibility. Emphasize its advantages, for example, the fact that outsourcing would reduce the workload of your company’s staff, and employees would be able to pay attention to other important issues.

7. If I knew how to…, I would answer

This is not a refusal to perform your duties, but rather a request for information. An employer would not think that you are a bad specialist, but consider the opportunity of vocational training.

8. I don’t know now, but I will soon because…

For example, because you have bought a book and are going to find an answer in it. Show surrounding people that you do not stand still and strive to develop, constantly gather information and improve your qualifications.

9. After consulting…, I guess…

If you are not sure that information at hand is correct, refer to a source. This should help you to abdicate responsibility and emphasize that you do not offer some ideas as only right.

10. I’m not sure, but possibly…

11. It’s just a hunch …

12. My intuition tells me…

Again, if you cannot guarantee that your solution is 100% right, it is worth informing an interlocutor about it to avoid possible misunderstandings.

13. I’m confused here

Explain which aspects do not allow you to cope with a task to help supervisors find ways to support you.

14. A better question is…

It is an elegant way to drag interlocutor’s attention to areas which you know well.

15. Is this urgent?

Find out whether it is possible to postpone solving a problem.

16. I can’t because…

There may be some objective reasons preventing you from fulfilling other people’s requests. For example, if a boss asks you to stay at an office in the evening, explain that you should take your child home from a kindergarten or visit a doctor. Nobody would think that you are a bad employee.

17. I don’t know because…


Let’s say a manager did not instruct you on some labor issues or your university did not teach discipline which turned out to be useful for your work. It is not your fault. Show that you would make every possible effort to fill in a knowledge gap.

18. If this task is a 10-run ladder, and I’m on rung #…

19. I know this… and don’t know this…, so next I should…

Show that a task is in progress, you did not completely forget about it, are planning to take certain actions and come to a conclusion. Also, tell a supervisor when one could see a ready result.

20. Let me make sure I understand the answer correctly…

It is quite normal to check back and clarify nuances if you did not grasp the meaning of a question. Mode detailed explanations may give you an insight into an issue and encourage well-informed decisions.

21. I would cope with this part…

If you face several questions or tasks at once, do not discard all items just because some of them confuse you. Show a supervisor what you are capable of, that you still can be useful for a team and just need time to elaborate problem areas.

22. When I did not know something in the past, I used to…

23. Because I’m not sure, I should…

…consult a specialist, read professional literature, double-check, or perform any other action which would help you to be sure in your position.

24. After googling, I’m wondering…

When seeking answers to questions, we sometimes just come up with new questions. It may be necessary to get clarifications from a supervisor to address an initial issue.

25. I’m going to start answering by…

You may use a kind of back-story to analyze interlocutors’ reactions and get additional information which would help you to answer a question.

As you can see, there are countless ways to improve your speech and adopt a growth-oriented mindset.

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