what do you mean/what are you saying

lingkky

Senior Member
chinese
Hello, everyone.

Let's us say I am having a conversation with someone.
if someone says “what are you saying” just after I have said something to him, what would it mean?

Does “What are you saying" here mean what do you mean or what are you talking about?
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    if someone says “what are you saying” just after I have said something to him, what would it mean?
    The actual words would help. But "What are you saying?" in that context usually expresses surprise, as in "Do you really mean that?" or "I can't believe it".
     

    lingkky

    Senior Member
    chinese
    The actual words would help. But "What are you saying?" in that context usually expresses surprise, as in "Do you really mean that?" or "I can't believe it".
    I wonder why people not say "what were you saying" but they say "what are you saying".
    Isn't the action of talking is already in the past?
    May be it is because "what are you saying" means "what do you mean" instead of "what you are talking "?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    May be it is because "what are you saying" means "what do you mean" instead of "what you are talking "?
    I've already stated what "What are you saying?" is likely to mean. I can't give you a more definite answer without more detail.
    Isn't the action of talking is already in the past?
    If the statement being replied to had just been made, it could be considered as still "ongoing" and not in the past. Again, without further context (what was actually said in the situation you're referring to), it's not possible to give you a more detailed answer.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I wonder why people not say "what were you saying" but they say "what are you saying".
    Isn't the action of talking is already in the past?
    May be it is because "what are you saying" means "what do you mean" instead of "what you are talking "?
    There's a difference in meaning/usage I think.

    In general terms (because you haven't given us any detailed context ;)):

    “What are you saying” suggests to me that you can hardly believe what the person is saying, because it sounds so unlikely or far-fetched.

    “What were you saying”
    implies that the conversation got interrupted and you're about to try and carry on from where you left off.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello, everyone.

    Let's us say I am having a conversation with someone.
    if someone says “what are you saying” just after I have said something to him, what would it mean?

    Does “What are you saying" here mean what do you mean or what are you talking about?
    Our problem, Lingkky, is that these things can mean many different things, depending on context and intonation.

    In many circumstances I'd take What are you saying? as meaning What point are you making?. What are you talking about? can often mean You are talking nonsense; I'm not clear that you wanted us to understand this meaning in your post.
     
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