Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 Last
Results 1 to 10 of 36
  1. Key Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Mar 2017
    • Posts: 2,131
    #1

    Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    1) The difference between these two forms is the inclusion of the definite article the, with gives phrase a. a specific reference that b. lacks.

    Quote Originally Posted by kadioguy View Post
    Do you mean "which"?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Yes, I did. I'll change that error now.
    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...=1#post1537495

    In this context, I am not sure which is better.

    a.
    Do you mean "which"?
    b.
    Did you mean "which"?

    Now I'll try to explain.

    I think (a) is okay, because the time between
    jutfrank's post and my reply was short. However, jutfrank replied to me, "Yes, I did." That may mean jutfrank thought although the time was short, indeed it went past. This is the reason I think (b) is also okay.

    What do you think? Which one would you use?


    Last edited by kadioguy; 13-Oct-2019 at 10:55. Reason: improved contents
    I am not a teacher. If there is anything ungrammatical in my post, please correct it. I am grateful for your help.

  2. VIP Member
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Malaysia

    • Join Date: Apr 2014
    • Posts: 5,060
    #2

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    There is no difference whether you asked the question in the present or past tense.
    As for the reply, it matters only if there is a change of the answer between "then' and "now", as in jutfrank making a correction to his earlier post.
    I am not a teacher or a native speaker.

  3. Key Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Mar 2017
    • Posts: 2,131
    #3

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by tedmc View Post
    As for the reply, it matters only if there is a change of the answer between "then' and "now", as in jutfrank making a correction to his earlier post.
    Do you mean if there is no change of the answer, it doesn't matter whether to say "Yes, did" or "Yes, I do"?

    Why are the present tense and the past tense both grammatically OK in the question and reply in this context?
    I am not a teacher. If there is anything ungrammatical in my post, please correct it. I am grateful for your help.

  4. jutfrank's Avatar
    VIP Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 9,269
    #4

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    My answer here will highlight what I think is an interesting difference between two distinct senses of the verb mean. Remember that apart from its sense as it relates to semiotics, the verb mean can also be used to talk about people's intentions. Here are three examples:

    Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you.
    I meant to call you but I got distracted.
    Start as you mean to go on.


    In all of those sentences, the verb mean is similar to the verb intend. It does not have a sense of 'meaning' in the semiotic sense.

    I believed that your question about my error was actually a question about what I intended to write. If that is the case, the past tense is more appropriate, because the intention is in the past. The intention is not present now because it's too late—the mistake has been committed. And that's why I responded with Yes, I did instead of Yes, I do. In other words, I understood your question to be asking Did you mean (to write) 'which'?

    When you ask a question about meaning in the semiotic sense, then present tense Do you mean ... ? and Yes, I do would be an appropriate question and answer.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 13-Oct-2019 at 13:01.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 51,343
    #5

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by kadioguy View Post
    Do you mean if there is no change of the answer, it doesn't matter whether to I/we say "Yes, I did" or "Yes, I do"?
    With my corrections above, they're both grammatically correct, but which one you choose would depend on the question.

    Q: Did you like the book?
    A: Yes, I did.
    A: Yes, I do.

    Q: Do you like cheese?
    A: Yes, I do.
    A: Yes, I did.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. Key Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Mar 2017
    • Posts: 2,131
    #6

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I believed that your question about my error was actually a question about what I intended to write. If that is the case, the past tense is more appropriate, because the intention is in the past. The intention is not present now because it's too late—the mistake has been committed. And that's why I responded with Yes, I did instead of Yes, I do. In other words, I understood your question to be asking Did you mean (to write) 'which'?

    When you ask a question about meaning in the semiotic sense, then present tense Do you mean ... ? and Yes, I do would be an appropriate question and answer.
    1.
    Can I say this?
    -----------
    A. Did you mean to write 'which'? ---->(intention)
    B. Do you mean 'which'? ---->(meaning)

    When we ask a question about "meaning" (in the forum), the present tense would be an appropriate question and answer, because the text is visible to us, so we see it as being present now.
    -----------

    2.
    But how about in everyday conversation?
    ----------
    Tom: (say something)
    Bob: Do you mean/Did you mean ...? (ask meaning, not intention)
    ----------
    I think "Do you mean" is appropriate, because Bob replies to Tom immediately. Even though technically the time has gone past, we can ignore that.

    Am I right?
    Last edited by kadioguy; 13-Oct-2019 at 15:42.
    I am not a teacher. If there is anything ungrammatical in my post, please correct it. I am grateful for your help.

  7. jutfrank's Avatar
    VIP Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 9,269
    #7

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by kadioguy View Post
    When we ask a question about "meaning" (in the forum), the present tense would be an appropriate question and answer, because the text is visible to us, so we see it as being present now.
    No, that is not the reason for using the present tense. The reason we use the present simple tense in sentences about sentence meaning (e.g. This means ... and Does sentence A mean ...?) is that we understand the meaning to be permanent/unchanging. If something means something today, it will also mean the same thing tomorrow.


    But how about in everyday conversation?
    ----------
    Tom: (say something)
    Bob: Do you mean/Did you mean ...? (ask meaning, not intention)
    ----------
    I think "Do you mean" is appropriate, because Bob replies to Tom immediately. Even though technically the time has gone past, we can ignore that.

    Am I right?
    I don't actually understand what you mean, but it doesn't sound right, no.

    To avoid any possible misunderstanding, please improve your examples by completing Tom and Bob's exchange to make the situation very clear. Think carefully about what type of meaning (speaker meaning or sentence meaning) you are thinking of.

  8. Key Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Mar 2017
    • Posts: 2,131
    #8

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    No, that is not the reason for using the present tense. The reason we use the present simple tense in sentences about sentence meaning (e.g. This means ... and Does sentence A mean ...?) is that we understand the meaning to be permanent/unchanging. If something means something today, it will also mean the same thing tomorrow.
    Thank you, jutfrank. Please let me explain it clearer.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    When you ask a question about meaning in the semiotic sense, then present tense Do you mean ... ? and Yes, I do would be an appropriate question and answer.
    Here, what I am doing is to try understanding what you mean above. Do you mean:
    --------
    When we ask a question about "meaning" (on forums), the present tense would be an appropriate question and answer. For example, "Do you mean ...?""Yes, I do."(rather than "Did you mean ...?""Yes, I did.") , because the text of the original poster is visible to us, so we see it as being present now.
    --------
    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I don't actually understand what you mean, but it doesn't sound right, no.

    To avoid any possible misunderstanding, please improve your examples by completing Tom and Bob's exchange to make the situation very clear. Think carefully about what type of meaning (speaker meaning or sentence meaning) you are thinking of.
    OK, I'll try it again.

    (In everyday conversation we cannot "see" words when speaking, so I think this is different from asking and answering online.)

    Case 1
    Tom: Hey, you!
    Bob: I'm sorry. Do/Did you mean me?

    (Adapted from https://i.imgur.com/7lHKmtp.jpg)

    Case 2

    Tom: Perhaps we should try another approach.
    Bob: What do/did you mean?

    (Adapted from https://i.imgur.com/3JqjhEC.jpg)

    In these two cases I think "do you mean" is appropriate because Bob replies to Tom immediately. Even though technically the time has gone past, we can ignore that.

    Case 3
    What did he mean by that remark?

    https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionari.../mean_1?q=mean

    I am not sure in what context we can use the past tense in the sentence. Maybe a longer interval between his mark and the speaker's saying this sentence? For example, he gave his mark one hour ago, yesterday, last week, etc.

    Case 4
    What was meant by the poet?

    http://learnersdictionary.com/definition/mean

    Is this case the same as Case 3?
    Last edited by kadioguy; 13-Oct-2019 at 18:06. Reason: improved contents
    I am not a teacher. If there is anything ungrammatical in my post, please correct it. I am grateful for your help.

  9. jutfrank's Avatar
    VIP Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 9,269
    #9

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by kadioguy View Post
    Do you mean:
    --------
    When we ask a question about "meaning" (on forums), the present tense would be an appropriate question and answer. For example, "Do you mean ...?""Yes, I do."(rather than "Did you mean ...?""Yes, I did.") , because the text of the original poster is visible to us, so we see it as being present now.
    Well, that's not exactly what I meant, but it may be a reason, depending on the context.

    Case 1
    Tom: Hey, you!
    Bob: I'm sorry. Do/Did you mean me?
    Both are possible. I'll explain why below.

    Related side point:The sense of mean here is similar to 'refer to'. Bob could say Are/Were you referring to me?

    Case 2
    Tom: Perhaps we should try another approach.
    Bob: What do/did you mean?

    In these two cases I think "do you mean" is appropriate because Bob replies to Tom immediately. Even though technically the time has gone past, we can ignore that.
    Yes. Only do is appropriate here. Both Tom and Bob are presently engaged in the conversation. Compare this to Case 1, where the two speakers are not presently engaged in a conversation until Bob responds. I do think though that the present tense Do is more likely in Case 1 because, from the moment of Bob's response, they begin to be presently engaged.

    Related side point: Can you see how the sense of
    mean is different from in Case 1? It does not mean 'refer to'. (Well, what Bob means is not obvious from this. In fact, he could mean What are you referring to? but I imagine a paraphrase of Bob's response as: Please expand on what you just said.)

    Case 3
    What did he mean by that remark?

    I am not sure in what context we can use the past tense in the sentence. Maybe a longer interval between his mark and the speaker's saying this sentence? For example, he gave his mark one hour ago, yesterday, last week, etc.
    The focus (the remark) is clearly an event in the distant past. It does not matter whether it was ten seconds or ten years ago. The idea is that the speaker is thinking about the remark as being in the past. Contrast this with Case 2.

    Case 4
    What was meant by the poet?

    Is this case the same as Case 3?
    Yes. But it seems to me like an odd, and quite unnatural example. I think that the present tense would be just as likely, if not more likely, because as you have noticed, when we read written texts, we tend to use the present tense to talk about them. This is because we are presently engaged with them. We even use the present tense to talk about writers who have been dead for hundreds of years. (E.g. Shakespeare is saying in the play that ... Confucius says we should ... Lao Tze thinks that ...)

    I've noticed that many of your questions relate in some way to the idea of present time. I'd like to remind you that the notion of what we call 'the present' in English is really quite undefined. It does not simply relate to an instant in linear time. It very often describes a fundamental kind of psychological experience (I like to call it a 'mindframe') that can extend indefinitely into the past/future. In Case 2, essentially, it really does not matter how much time has passed between Tom and Bob's utterances. Imagine that instead of a spoken conversation it was a conversation by email. They would still likely use the present tense to refer to each other's comments, even if they only emailed each other once a year. The point is that they are presently engaged in discourse. The fact that their emails are written is not crucial to that, though it does make it very obvious. It is still possible to say what Socrates thinks even though he never wrote anything down, as long as we feel that his thoughts are present to us.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 13-Oct-2019 at 20:07.

  10. Key Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Mar 2017
    • Posts: 2,131
    #10

    Re: Do you mean/Did you mean ...

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Well, that's not exactly what I meant, but it may be a reason, depending on the context.

    Thank you,
    jutfrank.

    Now I think what you meant is that the key to decide whether to use this present simple is whether the speakers are presently engaged the conversation, as you have said below. Am I right? (I have read all you've written in post #9.)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I've noticed that many of your questions relate in some way to the idea of present time. I'd like to remind you that the notion of what we call 'the present' in English is really quite undefined. It does not simply relate to an instant in linear time. It very often describes a fundamental kind of psychological experience (I like to call it a 'mindframe') that can extend indefinitely into the past/future. In Case 2, essentially, it really does not matter how much time has passed between Tom and Bob's utterances. Imagine that instead of a spoken conversation it was a conversation by email. They would still likely use the present tense to refer to each other's comments, even if they only emailed each other once a year. The point is that they are presently engaged in discourse. The fact that their emails are written is not crucial to that, though it does make it very obvious. It is still possible to say what Socrates thinks even though he never wrote anything down, as long as we feel that his thoughts are present to us.
    I am not a teacher. If there is anything ungrammatical in my post, please correct it. I am grateful for your help.

Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 Last

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •