Is there any difference between I mean and I meant when giving clarification? For example:

Person A: Julie will take care of the cat while we are away.

Person B: Who?

Person A: I mean/I meant Sara.

1 Answer 1


Yes and no.

There is a difference, in that one implies that you mean it now as opposed to when you spoke, and one implies that, at the time you spoke, you meant it as corrected.

In both cases, you are correcting what was said, so in that sense there isn't much difference.

There could be a case where you said something at time A, and at time B realize that you meant to say something different but no longer believe that the different thing is correct.

"I said Bill did it. I meant Paul, but I realize now that it was just someone that looked like Paul. But I never actually meant Bill." In that case, you would need "meant" instead of "mean".

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