In English, it is common to ask "You mean XXX...?" when a person does not understand enough what the conversation opponent said. I'm now in China, and to express the same thing I usually say the following:

X: 和啊你呢啊哈你哈看明日开幕韩人口日民哦那人口仍然要卖烤肉日日易容让粑粑你和那会让扣扣密码全牛皮光荣日光浴热卖款日日

I: 你的意思是XXX?


I: 你意味着XXX?

However, I feel this is quite awkward and just a silly translation from the equivalent English. In fact I have never seen any Chinese to say in the same way, although I should have rarely seen any Chinese are in these situations, so actually I'm not sure if my impression is correct or not.

So how can I express "You mean ...?" in Mandarin, to ask what they mean?

  • II would tell X : "你在唸什麼咒語?"
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 10, 2018 at 10:00
  • there are online dictionaries confirming OP's suggestion, e.g. feed "you mean" to iciba : 2. I'm not with you. Tell me what you mean. 我不明白你说的话,告诉我你是什么意思。 3. Rachel started forward on the sofa. — "You mean you've arrested Pete?" 雷切尔从沙发上猛地往前一欠身子。——“你的意思是你已经抓到了皮特?” ichacha do you mean 你的意思是... for further confirmation feed "意思是"to bkrs : 你的意思是,我的意思是说…?
    – user6065
    Mar 10, 2018 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


So how can I express "You mean ...?" in Mandarin, to ask what they mean?

"你的意思是XXX?" means you are making a guess, and asking for a confirmation

If you don't understand a person's single statement, the simplest way to ask for clarification is "你的意思是...?" (you meant....?) and let that person explain. or you can say "这是什么意思?" (what does it mean?)

If you don't understand a person's speech, you can just say "我不知道你在说什么" (I don't know what are you saying) , "我不明白你在说什么" or 我听不懂你在说什么" (I don't understand what you are saying)

It is the perfect response to the speech in your example

Come back to "你的意思是XXX?" (you meant XXX?)

The usage are the same in Chinese and English


A: "我讨厌生鱼!" (I hate raw fish!)

B: "你的意思是你讨厌吃鱼生?" (you meant you hate eating Sashimi?)

It can't be you hate living fish, right?

"你的意思是XXX?" can be replaced with "你是指XXX" (are you referring to XXX?)

  • "鱼生" is "Sashimi" ; "生鱼" is "raw fish" . Unlike 鱼生, Not all raw fish (生鱼) are eatable. "生鱼" in Cantonese could mean a specific fish which name is 生鱼, or it could mean "live fish" (活鱼 )
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 11, 2018 at 5:37
  • We say Sashimi as 生鱼片. Never heard of 鱼生 in my neck of woods.
    – dan
    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:19
  • Hong kong people call Sashimi as 鱼生; 鱼生片 refers to slice of Sashimi
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:24

You mean...

You're trying to say...

I don't really get what you mean.

What are you trying to say?


You can say "你是这个意思吗"

For example:

不想我结婚,你是这个意思吗? You mean you don't want me to get married?

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