Are these phrases the same "What do you mean by that?" and "What is meant by that?"

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Hi Oliver, One is personal and the other is general "What do you mean by that?" You are asking someone to explain more clearly what they have just said as you do not understand them 100% e.g. "This is even worse than the time we tried it 3 years ago" "What is meant by that?" Is when you are asking whoever is around you what you heard/saw/read and you do not understand completely, often because it is an idiom or a metaphor. e.g. "The Minister said that the company was trying their best, but they were just rearraning the deckchairs on The Titanic" (No matter what they did the final result would still be very negative)

  • Very similar, the first sentence is more direct, that is all.

  • There is often confusion surrounding the phrases "What do you mean by that?" and "What is meant by that?" Although they may appear to be interchangeable, there is actually a subtle difference in meaning. When you ask someone "What do you mean by that?," you are essentially asking for clarification on their statement. This suggests that you may not have understood what they said, or that you disagree with their interpretation. In contrast, when you ask "What is meant by that?," you are requesting information about the general concept being discussed. This phrase is often used when introducing a new topic, or when trying to gain a better understanding of an existing one. As such, it can be seen as a more neutral question

  • "What is meant by that" is a general question for clarification on an expression of word. "What do you mean by that" is asking for the person to explain what he or she means by what they said.

  • Both are correct. the only difference is the tense.

  • One is foregrounding the speaker. His/her intention, motive and maybe language. The other is backgrounding the speaker focusing on the statement itsself. The language, metaphor and any other in relation with what was spoken beforehand.

  • Both are the same. However: first = asking the specific person what they meant or 'mean by that?', second = a general what does that mean? They're basically the same. I would use the FIRST one much more often, as a person from England. Hope this helps :)

  • The meanings of the two questions are similar but not exactly the same. "What do you mean by that?" is asking what is your personal interpretation when you say that. "What is meant by that?" has a more generic or impersonal interpretation of the statement in question.

  • Keep it simple! What do you mean? Obviously you are asking about "that", you don't have to repeat it! The same applies to any other questions for example: What colour is her dress? Simply answer "red" We don't have to state the obvious! You will notice the spelling of colour is British! There is only one true English which is British English.

  • Hi Oliver, "what do you mean by that"---present tense asking what the person is referring to now. "what is meant by that"---- past tense asking what the person is referring to in past tense. Both are correct and could be used in to ask and or question something heard in the past. Hope that helps you Oliver:)

  • Both are correct but the first one is more common.

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