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If somebody who is speaking with me says, "I am getting confused." what does that mean?

I would understand that as "somebody thinks I am somebody else," but since the topic is not that, I don't understand exactly what that sentence would mean.

Is there another way of saying "I am getting confused."?

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  • Ironically, You were getting confused by them saying "I am getting confused."
    – TecBrat
    Jun 12, 2013 at 4:38
  • 1
    Another way to say it: "I am becoming confused"
    – Bill
    Nov 22, 2014 at 19:35

4 Answers 4

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"I am confused" means "I do not understand."

From The Free Dictionary:

confused [kənˈfjuːzd] adj

  1. feeling or exhibiting an inability to understand; bewildered; perplexed

"I am getting confused" has basically the same meaning; the implication is that they are in the progress of becoming confused ("I'm beginning to not understand").

A more common phrasing this (in my experience) is:

I'm starting to get confused.

This is a polite way of saying you've strayed into an area that they don't understand, and would like you to explain it differently or perhaps slow down. This also carries the implication that their confusion began recently; for example if you've been discussing something for an hour it's safe to assume that they're not confused about everything you've said, but that something you've said recently has confused them.


To address the source of your misunderstanding:

You mentioned that your guess as to what "I am getting confused" meant was "somebody thinks I am somebody else." If you actually want to say "somebody thinks I am somebody else", you would say:

I am often confused with Michael Jordan.

The with is very important; when you are confused with someone else, that means that very often people think you are that person. If this is something that has happened only once, not as a recurring pattern, you could say:

She confused me with [x].

Or if the event is still occurring, you could say:

I am being confused with [x].

Though this is unlikely, because usually if someone mistakes you for someone else, you clear the matter up immediately (that is, you'd tell the person they're wrong and the confusion would end before you would turn to someone else and tell them what's happening).

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  • Suppose people saw somebody who is very similar to me speaking on the local news; everybody who sees me when I go to the local food stores could tell me they saw me in television. Speaking to a friend of mine, I could say "I am being confused with the person who has spoken in television." As side question, is there any difference between "I am getting confused with [x]." and "I am being confused with [x]."
    – apaderno
    Apr 7, 2013 at 20:53
  • @kiamlaluno Good point! In that situation it would make sense, yes. As for your question, I'd say they mean the same thing, but being sounds more like what someone would say. You'd be understood either way :)
    – WendiKidd
    Apr 7, 2013 at 21:43
  • @kiamlaluno the word confuse comes from confundere in Latin, it means "mixed up" or "mingled together", so really when someone says they're confused it means that their thoughts are mixed up, and when someone says "you must have me confused with someone else" it means "you must have me and the person you're thinking of mixed up". Having said that, you don't "confuse" ingredients before you bake a cake! Hope that helps in your understanding :)
    – Nathan
    Feb 16, 2017 at 23:59
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You can confuse something with something else in Merriam-Webster's sense 3c there - to fail to differentiate from an often similar or related other (e.g. confuse money with comfort).

But if someone is confused, that's normally in one of these three closely-related senses as given by thefreedictionary...

1: feeling or exhibiting an inability to understand; bewildered; perplexed
2: in a disordered state; mixed up; jumbled
3: (Social Welfare) lacking sufficient mental abilities for independent living, esp through old age

...where obviously sense #3 is unlikely to be intended with "I am confused". Sense #2 is normally only used of things, rather than people, so the default interpretation for OP's example would be sense #1.

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The speaker is basically saying

I don't understand.

Or

I am having trouble understanding what you are telling me.

In my experience, it is more common to hear someone in the U.S. say:

I'm confused.

But the way you mentioned that phrase is fine too.

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Specifically "I am getting confused" indicates that they initially understood what you were trying to say (or thought they did), but the more you talked the more they did not understand what you where trying to convey. Generally, you would then back up a few sentences and try to explain what you meant.

It has nothing to do with them thinking you are someone else. They have simply stopped understanding what you are talking about. In this sentence "getting" means "entering the state of" or "becoming" confused.

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