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Is that what you mean

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Is that what you mean
December 24, 2018 Wedding Anniversary Wishes 3 comments

A variation of "that's what she said." Usually expressed with obvious knowledge, but in fact, they are taking your words completely out of context.

In the previous lesson, we introduced the phrase “I mean...” and some various ways to use it in Korean. In this lesson, let’s take a look at how to ask someone in Korean, “what do you mean?”, “what does that mean?”, or “what’s that supposed to mean?” when you can’t believe what you’ve just heard or when you don’t understand someone’s remark or point very well.

무슨 말이에요?

= What do you mean?

= What’s that supposed to mean? 

= What does that mean?

= What are you talking about?

“무엇” and “뭐” mean the same thing, and if you want to make it into an adjective, you would say “무슨”.

무슨 means “what kind of” or “which” and 말 means “word” or “language”. Therefore, 무슨 말 means “what word”, “which word”, or “what kind of things (to be said or written)”.

무슨 말이에요? literally means, “what word/language is it?”, but it is more correctly translated as, “What do you mean?” You can use 무슨 말이에요? when you are in disbelief after you hear someone say something or when you have not clearly understood what they mean.

Between friends, you can say, “무슨 말이야?”


A: 카메라 팔 거예요. (I’m going to sell my camera.)

B: 무슨 말이에요? 카메라도 없잖아요. (What do you mean? You don’t even have a camera!)

무슨 소리예요?

무슨 소리예요? is the same as 무슨 말이에요? but it is less formal and less polite. Therefore, it is not advised to use it with someone older than you or someone to whom you’re supposed to be polite. This is because 말 means “words”, but 소리 means “sounds”. You don’t want to refer to the words of the other person as mere “sounds”. You can use 무슨 소리예요? more safely, however, when you are literally saying “What’s that sound?”

무슨 말씀이세요?

In Korean, there are many ways of making a phrase “honorific”, and one of the ways is to use “honorific” nouns. 말씀 is the honorific version of 말.

How to Literally Ask, “What does this mean?”

As we’ve introduced in the previous lesson, when you want to LITERALLY ask what a certain expression means, you can use the expression “무슨 뜻이에요?”

Sample Sentences

네? 그게 무슨 말이에요?

= What? What do you mean?

= Huh? What does THAT mean?

그만둘 거라고요? 갑자기 무슨 말이에요?

= You are going to quit? What do you mean all of a sudden?

무슨 말이에요? 제가 왜요?

= What do you mean? Why (do) I (have to...)? 

= What do you mean? Why me?

무슨 말인지 잘 모르겠어요.

= I’m not sure what you mean.

= I don’t know what you are talking about.

무슨 말인지 알겠어요.

= I know what you mean.

= I understand what you are saying.

An idiomatic expression is a group of two or more words which cannot be understood simply by knowing the meaning of each separate word - it has a special meaning which speakers of the language understand. There are a great many idioms in the English language, and it is difficult.

What do you mean by that

is that what you mean

From original question

I thought only " what [email protected]@mean?"was grammatically correct but I heard a lot of Americans saying "what does it mean by @@?"

If you saw something confusing on a street sign, you might point and say "what does it mean by that".

Here, "it" would refer to the sign. You are treating the sign as if it were a person who had said something. So it's very similar to sentences like "What did he mean when he said that?"

This isn't particularly common. If you are reading and trying to understand a book that has a lot of confusing sentences and it's like the book itself starts to take on an evil identity...it might be more common. :-)

As for "What does it mean that (...)", there are rare cases you might hear it as a kind of question to provoke thought, where you're not expecting an answer (e.g. a "rhetorical question".)

  • "What does it mean that one fourth of humanity lives without electricity?"

But if you're really asking about what something means, "What does (...) mean?" or "What's the meaning of (...)?" would be what you'd want to use.

From updated question

I thought only "what does _____ mean?" was grammatically correct but I heard a lot of Americans saying "what do you mean by _____?"

Are both of them correct? Are there any differences between those two?

If you ask "what do you mean by ____" then you are suggesting the person has said something you want them to explain. But "what does ____ mean" could be asked of someone whether they've said anything or not. You're just asking a question about the general meaning of something.

In usage, "What do you mean by that?!!?" can be a strong negative reaction...usually when someone has said something that the person feels was meant to be insulting even if it wasn't "obviously" so. So it's not really asking for clarification, because the speaker has already assumed it was meant in a bad way.

But it can also just be a polite phrase asking what someone meant.

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English-German Dictionary

is that what you mean

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      What do you mean?()
      1.(used to address one person)
      a. ¿Qué quieres decir?(singular)
      A word of phrase used to refer to the second person informal “tú” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. How are you?).
      I don't think you should come to the party. - What do you mean?Creo que no deberías venir a la fiesta. - ¿Qué quieres decir?
      b. ¿Qué quiere decir?(singular)
      A word or phrase used to refer to the second person formal “usted” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. usted).
      What do you mean? I hope you're not suggesting it was our fault.¿Qué quiere decir? Espero que no esté insinuando que la culpa haya sido nuestra.
      2.(used to address multiple people)
      a. ¿Qué quieren decir?(plural)
      It really wasn't our fault, dad. - What do you mean?Realmente no fue nuestra culpa, papá. - ¿Qué quieren decir?
      A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
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      The problem was not the words you used, but rather the meaning the We have an innate ability to take a word and give it meaning that may.

      Is That What You Mean - English Idioms

      is that what you mean

      Behavioral styles tell us that only about 18% of the population score high on the scale that favors assertiveness and dealing with things head on. These are people who thrive on conflict, will say what they think, don’t care who they offend (at times) and are bold in their approach. The remaining 82% of the population tends to shrink away from conflict, would prefer not to address things, or just tolerates someone who yells and curses. Why is it so hard for people to say what they mean, and mean what they say, sometimes?

      You have probably been told that lying is wrong, but then telling a white lie seems necessary in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. You know you shouldn’t talk about another person behind their back but it’s so much easier to “seek input” from someone else than it is to tell the person you have the conflict with that something is wrong. You want to confront someone but not be mean, but you wait too long to have the discussion and the straw breaks the camel’s back and you find yourself yelling and screaming, and now you look like the “bad guy or gal”.

      Many people never learn how to appropriately say what they mean, and mean what they say. In school, if you dare to react negatively to what a teacher (who might be wrong) says to you, there are consequences for speaking out. Parents are often not good at the communication process so they may shade the truth, become overly bullying or overly passive, and neglect to model good communication in their behavior.

      Think about the bosses, co-workers, friends, teachers, and colleagues you may have had over the years who simply were not good at communicating. You may have learned, months or years later, about something you did to offend them or something important they neglected to share. People are hurt when the truth comes out later, but why is telling the truth at the time such a hard thing to do?

      Our culture values “niceness” over truth in many cases. People who address issues, or bring something up to someone that could be perceived as hurtful, are looked upon as the problem. If you point out what someone else has done wrong, instead of the person considering the feedback and having an objective conversation, the threat is there that they will go off and tell someone else about what a mean person you really are.

      When you grow up without good role modeling, how can you learn to say what you mean and feel good about it, while leaving the other person with their confidence and security in place? It takes practice and diligence, but the results are worth it. Consider these seven steps to being a more authentic communicator:

      1. When you want to deliver negative or non-positive feedback, consider your goal. What do you hope to accomplish as an outcome? Do you want the person to be more aware? Do you hope they will change their behavior? Are you trying to stop them from hurting themselves and others? Think about your own intention first. Many times we just want the other person to know something – we don’t have an expectation for what could happen once they know. If you have an outcome in mind, you can frame your comments differently – “I’m hoping if I share some feedback you might reconsider the way you are treating our daughter.”
      2. Ask permission and make sure it is the right time to offer feedback. Let the person know you’d like to share something, but make sure they are open to hearing it. Sometimes people are weaker than other times – you don’t know all of what is going on with them. Prepare them for the discussion; “I would like to share some feedback; is now a good time or would there be a better time for you?”
      3. Be objective and stick to facts in your approach. Try to refrain from using a broad brush. This is why parents are taught not to say “Bad boy” or “Good boy”; you don’t want to opine on a person’s overall character. Instead, say “That outburst at the dinner table was upsetting. I think there was another way you could have handled it. Are you open to hearing my thoughts and suggestions about how to address the issue next time?”
      4. Acknowledge your own thoughts and feelings – it’s perfectly fine to have a reaction and to share it. “Truthfully, I don’t even know if what you said was hurtful; it’s just that the tone of voice and the yelling was distressing to me. I have a hard time enjoying my meal when you are so upset and angry.” Many people don’t know how their behavior impacts someone else. Sometimes if you can point out why it was bothersome, the person gets a chance to do it differently next time.
      5. Remember, you are not responsible for how another person reacts. If you have something to say but you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings, does that mean that the situation isn’t any less real or legitimate? You always want to stop and consider your own motives, but you can’t be responsible for what everyone else thinks and feels. Be responsible in your delivery, but not responsible for the reaction.
      6. Take the time to think about the other person’s viewpoint. Seek to understand with genuine interest. You can give feedback, but you also can try and see the person’s perspective; “I’m curious about why you seemed so angry at the dinner table? I know our daughter wearing her ear buds while we eat is upsetting to you, but is something else going on?” Sometimes inquiring and trying to draw someone out can be more beneficial than trying to teach them something.
      7. Do your best to remember that most people haven’t learned well how to be open and honest in a non-hurtful, productive manner: It’s not taught in schools. It’s not often learned at home. It’s a fundamental skill that most people lack. Do your best to practice saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. It’s possible that others around you will follow suit.

      Source: Pixabay

      WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean lyrics

      An idiomatic expression is a group of two or more words which cannot be understood simply by knowing the meaning of each separate word - it has a special meaning which speakers of the language understand. There are a great many idioms in the English language, and it is difficult.

      is that what you mean
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