Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
how to talk about big ideas in English

Have you heard somebody use the phrase “don’t quote me on that?”

Is this a phrase that you have wondered about in English?

This is one of those phrases that lets people know that you are not totally confident in what you are saying, and it gives you a little uncertainty.

We’re going to look at how you might use this phrase, why it’s important, and why you don’t want to overuse it unless you are really sure.

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We have a great question about this very phrase that may be what you have thought as well.

Hi Lindsay,

Many thanks for your podcast! It’s part of my daily routine. Great work with Michelle! I have a hard time with this expression “don’t quote me on that.” It seems to have many meanings that I just can’t untangle. Is tht a common expression in everyday life?

Many thanks in advance!


Understanding This Phrase

You might hear the phrase “Don’t quote me on that” used a lot.

When you think you know the answer, but you’re just not sure then you might use it.

When you’re quoting something that you read or even researched, but you don’t necessarily remember all of the exact data or specifics.

This phrase gives you a level of credibility, and it also serves as a disclaimer.

To be quoted means that you’re sure, and you’re comfortable that others know that you said something.

If you are quoted, you don’t want people to share your information and quote you if you aren’t exactly certain of the specifics.

Ways To Think About and Use This Phrase

The phrase “don’t quote me on this” can also be used for gossip.

You might say something like “don’t quote me on this but I heard she’s getting a divorce.”

You don’t want to get locked into timing or be responsible for somebody missing a deadline.

You might say “I thought that the paper was due by 7:00, but don’t quote me on that in case it’s a bit earlier. I don’t want you to be late!”

We’re going below the surface, and really looking at this phrase and how to make it work.

You don’t want people to lose confidence in you, and you don’t want to lose credibility.

You can come across as informed but trying to focus on details if you use this phrase, but you don’t want to overuse it.

You may have some of the facts, but not all of the facts and so this saves you.

It’s All About Credibility When It Really Matters

If you use this phrase too much though, then it sounds like you are trying to speak to things that you just aren’t sure of.

If you use this phrase about things that don’t really matter, then that saves your credibility.

You might say “I think that a burger costs about $3 there, but don’t quote me on that.”

If however you use the phrase too much about things that really do matter, then that’s when you lose credibility.

This is a great phrase to share ideas or thoughts, and focused on things that aren’t really that important in the big picture.

If you’re confident in something and you want to assert a point, then you could turn it around.

You could say “oh you can quote me on that” if you know something for sure.

Saying “don’t quote me on that” is when you are close enough and the outcome or speculation isn’t that important.

Be sure that you don’t overuse it or apply it to important things.

Other Phrases To Use In This Area

There are a couple of phrases to use if you’re not sure.

There are also phrases that you can turn around if you are completely sure about something.

Be sure that you have confidence, and then use the phrase that best fits.

Here are a couple of phrases to use depending on what you are talking about and how sure you are about the topic.

  • I’m not 100% sure: Giving it that percentage helps you to differentiate that you just can’t be sure. It still gives you some credibility but it doesn’t tie you into knowing something as fact. This is a great disclaimer to use in the instance that you want to put it out there that you aren’t completely confident.
  • I’m almost positive: You have some confidence, but not all of it. You are saying that you’re almost there, but not quite. So you might be considered a reputable source, and that’s something that people can put some trust in.
  • I’m 100% sure/positive: This is at the other end of the spectrum, and flipping the phrase around totally. This is something you would say if you know something with absolute certainty. You have great confidence and you stand behind what you are saying.
  • You can quote me on that: This is the same kind of thing where you are flipping the phrase around completely. If you are saying this then there is no doubt in your mind about what you are talking about.

These phrases are all great for talking about your level of certainty or uncertainty.

You can turn it around if you truly feel confident.

Be sure though that you have a certain level of confidence if you are talking about something truly important.


You will hear the phrase “don’t quote me on that” and others like it used often in conversation.

This is a great phrase to use if you have an idea of something, but you aren’t completely 100% sure.

Be sure not to overuse this phrase or to use it for things that really do matter.

Being quoted means that you know exactly what you are talking about, so be sure that you have confidence in this.

These are fun phrases to play around with in conversation, and you can cater them to your level of certainty and confidence about a situation or specifics.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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