We use this expression when we are very surprised or angry at something we heard. We are so surprised or angry that we want the other person to say it again or confirm what they said, so we can check if we heard and understood correctly.
A) Mr. Peters says that we have to finish this project by tomorrow.
B) Are you telling me that we have to work overtime again?
A) I think so.
B) That is crazy! We have worked overtime every day this week.
We can also use this pattern when we want to make sure that we heard something correctly. This happens a lot when we are talking about something difficult or confusing.
A) A combination of poor housing policy, lackluster growth in the economy, has caused a major bubble in the housing market.
B) Are you saying that housing prices are going to fall sharply in the near future? Are you telling me (that) + sentence?
Even though this is a question, the second part of this pattern (the "sentence" part) is in regular sentence form.
- Are you telling me that he got a promotion? But he shows up late every day!
- Are you telling me that I can't go on vacation because we have a new project?
- Are you telling me that everything in this store is 70% off?
- Are you telling me she is married?
We can use another pronoun instead of "me". It is also common to use the pronoun "us", but other pronouns are not that common.
- Are you telling us that we have to work every weekend until the project is finished?
- Are you telling us that we can't eat what we want to?
- Are you telling her that she can't marry him?
- Are you telling the children that they can't play?
We can also ask what another person said.
Bonus Tips and Points
- Is he saying that we have to work this weekend?
- Is he saying that housing prices will go up?
- Is this newspaper article saying that global warming is fake?
- Are they saying that the company is closing?
- Are they saying that nuclear energy is bad for the environment?
1. We can make a similar sentence by using the word "say" instead of "tell". Remember that we do not us a pronoun after "say". Compare these two sentences.
- Are you telling me that it is good?
- Are you saying that it is good?
- Is he saying that we can't go in?
Notice that there is no pronoun (me) in the second question, but the questions have the same meaning.
Real-World English Conversations
- Are you saying that I can't leave?
- Are you saying that that rude man is your boss?
- Is he saying that we should leave now?
- Is the book saying that we should never drink coffee?
- Are they saying that exercise is bad for us?
A) We have to finish this report by tomorrow no matter what.
B) Are you telling me that we have to stay here all night?
A) It's possible, but hopefully, we can finish before midnight.
A) She has 50 cats.
B) Are you telling me that she lives with 50 cats in her home?
A) That's right.
B) That is like the craziest thing I've ever heard.
A) He has been married for 30 years.
B) But isn't he only 48 years old?
B) Are you telling me that he got married when he was 18?
A) That is exactly what I am telling you.
A) I'm sorry, but you cannot get on this flight.
B) Are you telling me that I can't use the ticket that I paid for?
A) That is correct. Unfortunately, we overbooked the number of passengers.
B) What does that mean?
A) It means that we sold too many tickets; so unfortunately, some passengers will not be able to take this flight. They will need to wait for the next flight.
B) So, let me get this straight. Are you saying that I can't take this flight and I am going to be late for my sister's wedding because your company made a mistake? Unbelievable!Use these free English lessons to learn the most common sentence patterns in the English language. If you learn these sentence and questions well, it will help you speak English well. Study the lessons thoroughly, practice making your own sentences, and come back to review often. If you do these three steps, your English speaking will improve quickly and you will be able to have natural English conversations.