Well, recently using google translate I got interesting translation for me. Of course I have never seen that translation before and I ran to search information of this translation, and I did not find nothing. It was unpleasant surprise. So I am there to ask.

Ok, in English you have a frequently-used verb "want". And it is simple to understand, I think learners of English never get confused in it. But also you have another frequently-used verb "mean". It's too not complicated but as I said before I have seen new meaning of it, and you maybe have guessed what I mean :)

Well I found usage "mean" as "want". And I really don't understand how and why is it?

Some sentences for clearing of that mess:

  1. "Mean" in common (as I think) usage:

We must mean what we say.

  1. "Mean" in meaning "want":

I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt.

I need an explanation of the difference :)

  • 6
    I think the definitions of "mean" might explain it all! "Mean" often means "intend" rather than "want". Your first sentence might be rewritten as "we must genuinely intend to say what we say," and your second as "I didn't intend to hurt anyone". It doesn't quite mean "I didn't want..." It's a matter of intention. Jul 5, 2021 at 22:54
  • @OldBrixtonian nice one, it's too explains well. Thank you guys for your efforts. Cheers.
    – MaximPro
    Jul 6, 2021 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


This helps show why Google Translate, and other automated translation systems, are not yet good enough to rely on for accurate translations.

As the comment by Old Brixtonian says, a significant sense of "mean" is "intend", and this is the sense used in both example sentences. They can be rephrased as:

  1. We must intend what we say.

or better

We must state our intentions accurately.


  1. I didn't intend for anyone to get hurt.

One significant meaning of "want" is "desire". For example:

  • I want some ice cream.
  • I want to go to Paris next year.

Now when one desires something, one often intends to get it, and when one intends something, one often desires it to happen. Thus "mean" in the sense of "intend" and "want" in the sense of 'desire" can often be used of the same situation, although with different emphasis and slightly different meaning. For example:

  • I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt. (I did not intend harm to occur.)
  • I didn't want anyone to get hurt. (I did not desire the harm, although I might have known it was likely.)

None how these two sentences convey related but different ideas. Note also that often the same person could use either about the same situation.

(Both "mean" and "want" have other, quite different senses. But those are not being used in these examples.)

  • Excellent explanation. Thanks a lot! Now I've realized the difference
    – MaximPro
    Jul 6, 2021 at 1:12
  • If you find this helpful, you can upvote the answer, or accept it, or both. The up-arrow upvotes, and the check mark accepts. Jul 6, 2021 at 1:26
  • Sure thing, it's not a problem.
    – MaximPro
    Jul 6, 2021 at 1:50

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