There is this context:

"Since we are discussing the relationship of space, time, and logic, let us talk about time-travel paradoxes. We first have to ask ourselves what it means to travel back through time. What would it mean for me to go back to the Continental Congress held in Philadelphia in 1776, in order to witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence?"

What's the meaning of “what it means for {someone} to be in some place”?

I had a similar question about what it means for something to be something: What's the meaning of "what it means for {something} to be {something}"?

but in this context, I don't think the previous question has the answer for this one. I don't get it what it means for me to be in a certain place. if anyone can help I would appreciate it.

  • Suppose it was possible for me to go back to the Continental Congress held in Philadelphia in 1776, in order to witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What would it mean if I did that? In syntactically similar constructions (but not yours) the intended meaning could be more along the lines of What would that mean for me? / How would that affect me? Or possibly Why should it matter that it's me who does that? / Why couldn't someone else do it? Mar 28, 2019 at 15:49
  • I feel that we are just guessing at an ambiguous passage. My guess seems to be different from the others I see. I think that author intended a more semantic question: what do the words "I have gone back in time" mean? That seems different from the suggestions I see, that the author is considering how we might react psychologically or what the practical consequences might be. But I think that all of these guesses are just guesses, at least until we see even more of the context.
    – Chaim
    Mar 28, 2019 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


The author seems to be talking about having the ability to go back in time and to witness the events as if you were physically present when they first happened. In this case the author is talking about going back to when the representatives of the British colonies in America first gathered to assert their independence from Britain and wrote a document called The Declaration of Independence. Going back in time is of course, not possible for humans, at least, not yet. The author is just asking you to imagine what it would be like if you could go back in time.

This is of course speaking of something more than your physical location. I can say, "Imagine that you are in Sydney, Australia." This is saying, "Imagine that you are in America and the year is 1776, not 2019."

  • To go live in Australia means everything to me.
  • To visit New Zealand means so much to me.
  • To visit Brazil means nothing to me.
  • Getting a new job could mean lots more cash.
  • Going back to some point in history means little to me.
  • The new teacher means a lot to me.


  • What would it mean to you to go live in Australia?
  • What would it mean to you to visit New Zealand?
  • What does going back in history mean to you?

In English the verb mean can be signify. To have a meaning.

In short, x means y for [some person] means to have the meaning that comes after the verb mean.

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