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Is there any difference in meaning among the 3 following sentences?

What I meant was whether that is correct or not.

What I meant was whether that was correct or not.

What I meant was whether that would be correct or not.

If so, an explanation will be great.

Also is the 1st sentence semantically/grammatically correct? (could using "is" & "was" in the same sentence make the meaning of the sentence ambigous here?)

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A couple of things.

What I was asking was whether...

would be clearer and more idiomatic than what I meant was whether...

There is no rigid rule that absolutely requires the tense of the whether-clause to agree with the past tense in the main clause, though such agreement is good. When it doesn't agree there are consequences.

What I was asking was whether that's correct or not. conversational / colloquial

What I was asking was whether that was correct or not. neutral

What I was asking was whether that would be correct or not. perhaps a tad more polite than neutral

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  • There's also something else you can do. What I was asking was, Is that correct or not?" Aug 4, 2018 at 14:07

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