The two words "point out" and "mention" are so close that I can call them synonymous words; but I see some slight nuances when it comes to use each one. I have read so many examples and dictionaries and found out that you 'point something out' if you think it is important that the other person should know this. For example, if you see a mistake in a report, you should point this out to someone. This means that you draw someone's attention to it. It's like pointing your finger at something to draw attention to it. However, I wonder which examples below (made up or taken from OEDs,) which are all correct with "mention", can work with "point out" either or they would sound unnatural to you?

  1. He mentioned that he was having problems, but he did't explain.
  2. He casually mentioned that he was quitting his job.
  3. That's her right to know about the company's decision. She myst make a decision about her future soon as possible. Although, it's hard to tell her, but I'll mention it to her when I see her tomorrow.
  4. My wife mentioned seeing you the other day on the street.

As you see, in all cases above, someone is trying to inform something apparently important to someone else. So, this is logical that "point out" should work here without any change in meaning. I would really appreciate it if you help me find out about these cases and the nuance between these two.

2 Answers 2


I'd like to point out that you are correct on many counts:

  1. The two words have similar, overlapping meanings.
  2. You could use pointed out in some of those sentences, and they would still be grammatical and sound natural.

Here is one that I think is troublesome, though:

My wife pointed out seeing you the other day on the street.

I don't think that one works very well with a straight substitution, although we could say:

My wife pointed out that she saw you the other day on the street.

As for differences in nuances, let's compare these two:

He casually mentioned that he was quitting his job.
He casually pointed out that he was quitting his job.

To me, I think the second one suggests that fact that he was quitting his job was mentioned in some larger context, whereas the first might have been said without any prompting at all.

For example, I might say:

Ted sat at the bar, ordered a pint, and casually mentioned that he was quitting his job.

This suggests that I may have been surprised at the news.

In contrast, there is this scenario:

Ted sat at the bar, ordered a pint, and casually told me that his car was giving him troubles again. "You should just buy a new car," I said. He casually pointed out that he was quitting his job.

This suggests that maybe he had told me this beforehand – perhaps last week – but I wasn't taking into account his upcoming financial hardships when I suggested buying a new car.

So we could say that, when we mention something, there's a good chance the person is hearing it for the first time, but when we point out something, there's a good chance that it relates to something they were told before.

Looking at Oxford's Lexico, I find these two defintions:

mention (verb) refer to (something) briefly and without going into detail
point something out (phrasal verb) say something to make someone aware of a fact or circumstance.

So, it's less about the significance of the news, and more about the motive of the mention.

Here is one other example we could study, where the news is indeed significant in both cases:

My wife casually mentioned that she was pregnant.

This would suggest that she is not giving the news with any great fanfare, but she is still probably going to enjoy seeing the look of surprise or shock on my face.

My wife casually pointed out that she was pregnant.

Much like my previous example, I wouldn't use this expression if she was telling me the news for the first time. It suggests a reminder of some sort, as if I had just said something like, "I asked my wife if she wanted to take the elevator or the stairs up the sixth floor." She is answering my question by pointing out that she is pregnant, so clearly the stairs would not likely be her chosen route.

  • Thank you very much @J.R. for the excellent answer, but I would really appreciate it if you do me and the other learners a favor and compare the other example sets too. It will help us understand how these two words can change each sentence's meaning a subsequently find out the closest concept for them.
    – A-friend
    Aug 15, 2019 at 12:19
  • In order to have a more practical situation I wonder if you do me a favor and let me know about the cases above. I think, based on what you mentioned, both words work in all four cases above, but in all of them the verb "mention" is the most natural excepting #2 in which "point out" is the most appropriate. Do you confirm @J.R.?
    – A-friend
    Aug 15, 2019 at 12:45
  • Sorry; as we often say in education, the rest is left as an exercise for the reader. There are thousands (millions?) of sentences that could use the word mention; we can't analyze them all one by one. And I'd like to point out: I never said that "point out" would be more appropriate choice in Sentence #2 – I said that it depends entirely on the situation, the context, and what you are trying to communicate.
    – J.R.
    Aug 15, 2019 at 14:11
  • So @J.R. my take is that often when you "mention" something, the listener will be surprised, since they lack any background about what you just said, whereas when you "point out" something, they usually won't be surprised as they have a previous knowledge of the case
    – A-friend
    Aug 16, 2019 at 6:46
  • Also, I know that to mention something is "to happen to allude to it briefly, while to point something out is "to intentionally bring particular attention to it." How can I combine this definition with the surprising aspect of the words. If it's a valid definition of the words, then how shall I combine it with the surprise aspect of the words @J.R.?!
    – A-friend
    Aug 16, 2019 at 6:51

In a simple way Mention is used to describe something in detail Nd point out is also used to describe something but in a brief nd straight forward manner....

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