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Do you mean / Did you mean

Discussion in 'English Only' started by yupl, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. yupl New Member

    Chinese
    Is there any difference between these two? Can someone do me a favor explain these to me and give me some examples?

    Thanks
     
  2. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    It's just a simple difference between the present and the past tense.
    Do you mean - present tense (used as a response to something someone is saying/writing now)
    Did you mean - past tense (response to something someone said/wrote in the past)
     
  3. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Welcome to the forum, yupl.

    We need context (as required by forum rules) in order to provide a comprehensive answer.
     
  4. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Welcome to the forum, yupl. :)

    We can give the most useful answers if you give us context. That means, give us an example of a sentence or two in which you might use these. Sometimes we might use either one. Sometimes only one would fit.

    You will notice that we like the people who ask the questions to give the examples, either ones they made up or ones they read somewhere.
     
  5. sdgraham and Cagey,
    I like your kind advice for yupl.

    May I give you an example on yupl's behalf?

    A: Do you want to come to tomorrow's party?
    B: I have something to do.
    A: Do you mean that you can't come to the party?


    Does this dialog sound good? Is "Did you mean" better here than Do you mean?
     
  6. Chris K Senior Member

    Tacoma WA, US
    English / US
    "Do you mean" is correct. But if you waited five minutes you could then say "did you mean...?," referring back to your previous conversation.
     
  7. Thank you, CK.

    A: Do you want to come to tomorrow's party?
    B: I have something to do.
    (The phone rings. Some time later, A and B starts to talk again.)
    A: Did you mean that you can't come to the party?

    Is "Did you mean," not "Do you mean," correct?
     
  8. Chris K Senior Member

    Tacoma WA, US
    English / US
    Either present or past would be possible, because it could still be regarded as a continuation of the same conversation.
     
  9. Thank you, CK.

    A: Do you mean that you can't come to the party?
    Can I say "Are you saying ...." instead?

    A: Did you mean that you can't come to the party?
    Can I say "Were you saying ...." instead?
     
  10. Chris K Senior Member

    Tacoma WA, US
    English / US
    Yes. However the meanings are slightly different:

    Are you saying? = Does the fact that you have another engagement mean you can't come to the party?

    Were you saying? = Did I understand you correctly that you have another engagement and can't come to the party?
     

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