what I meant was / what I mean is

ninjutsu

Senior Member
Japanese
I'm having a conversation, and i tried to explain to him/her because she/he misinterpreted, which one should I use?

What I meant was or what I mean is ?
 
  • idialegre

    Senior Member
    USA English
    It hardly matters which one you use. If you are talking about a conversation you had yesterday, you would use the past tense, "meant." But if you are in the middle of the conversation right now, then probably "mean" is better. Still, both are fine.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm having a conversation, and i tried to explain to him/her because she/he misinterpreted, which one should I use?

    What I meant was or what I mean is ?
    You say you are having a conversation (present), and that you tried (past).

    You then ask us if you should use the present or the past to ask a question about what is/was going on.

    I think you need to be more consistent. I can't help you until you make clear when these things happen/happened.
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    Either could be used, but 'meant' focusses on a particular thing said. "When I saw your dress, I said, 'Take it back'; what I meant was that it doesn't suit you."

    As idialegre says, in the midst of a present conversation, you might try to clarify what you mean, and it's not to do with wording.
    A: "When I mentioned the Ukrainians, you said, 'They can go jump off a cliff.' Do you mean you're fine if there's a war, there?"
    B: "No, I don't mean that. I simply mean that I have no interest in that part of the world."
     

    ninjutsu

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    You say you are having a conversation (present), and that you tried (past).

    You then ask us if you should use the present or the past to ask a question about what is/was going on.

    I think you need to be more consistent. I can't help you until you make clear when these things happen/happened.

    "I was having a conversation", I did notice about that, but I don't know how to edit my post, so I just left the thread just like that.
     
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