Which would be the correct use of the word in the two sentences below:

  • I mean, I can do it!
  • I can do, I meant it

Also, please explain why! Because I'm trying to improve my English usage of words in everyday English.

  • I meant it is the past tense of I mean it. So, no, the meaning is not the same as the tense is different. The difference is the same as with "I walk" and "I walked".
    – oerkelens
    Jul 9, 2014 at 8:56
  • @Monica Please read the help about responding: we don't do "Thanks" comments. Jul 9, 2014 at 8:59
  • What are you trying to convey through the sentence? Jul 9, 2014 at 8:59

3 Answers 3


Is the phrase 'I mean' on the first sentence means you're like correcting something? Or are you saying that you stand for being able to do something?

Also, the 2nd sentence will sound better with : I can do it and I mean it.

If you really want to improve, try watching movies or reading books. If a sentence/phrase sounds a bit odd, then most likely it is wrong.


mean, meant, meant are simple present, simple past, and past participle respectively.

So using each of them in a sentence would depend on what tense you're talking about. So, let's say both of them are in present, then your sentences will be:

I mean, I can do it.

Intend to say something

This shows your intention, emphasizing on what you particularly intend to say.

I can do it, I mean it.

  1. Intend to do something
  2. say something seriously

This one means to intend to do something or you're serious about what you're saying.

The #2 definition is the main usage of your second sentence most of the time.

Reference: LDOCE.


The verb "to mean" has 2 different, er, meanings :-)

One is a colloquial synonym for "intend":

"I mean to do it" = "I intend to do it". It's much stronger than "I'd like to do it", "I want to do it", "I expect to do it" etc. It can be on the same level as "I will do it" but only if "will" is stressed: "I will(!) do it".

The other is a synonym for the phrase "is defined as": '"to walk" means "to go on foot"' = '"to walk" is defined as "to go on foot"'.

That second one is a very awkward construction and no native speaker would ever actually use it, but it is legitimate. It's just embarrassing because it's so unnatural.

"To mean" in the sense of "to define as" is one of those verbs that everyone uses for the very reason that there is no well-polished synonym, so one must resort to things like "to define as" or be trapped into trying to use it to define itself, something that rarely works well.

Hope that helps!

  • I find it annoying when I take the time to write a perfectly accurate response and then someone comes along and downticks it without explanation.
    – MMacD
    Nov 28, 2016 at 18:48

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