Showing reservation: How to express uncertainty in decision making


An essential skill in language use and especially in exam situations is the ability to show uncertainty about decisions or unfamiliar topics. This is essential for part 3 of the speaking exam for the CAE (HERE) and can be practised with out collaborative task activities (HERE)




I´m not so sure about

I have my doubts about

There´s some doubt in my mind about

It´s not my field, but

I wouldn´t be so sure about

I can´t quite decide if/on

I can´t say that it´s my speciality, but

I haven´t got (a)round to making a decision on

I am not a hundred percent sure about

I don´t know yet what I think about

It´s very unlikely that

I wouldn´t say that’s the case at all

I´m no expert, but

I would take a closer look at… if I were you

I might require some time to think about it

I should consider all of the options before making a decision

Without taking a closer look at… it might be a tough question




Another useful way to express uncertainty is through the use of modal verbs of certainty, such as: must, should, might/may/could, can´t. For exercises related to this click HERE


You must be able to understand uncertaintly in the listening part of the exam (HERE) as it will often reveal the subtle differences between a correct and incorrect answer. It is important to understand intonation as well as these key phrases that can come in various forms as they are flexible and can be adapted to several contexts.

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