“What Does That Mean” vs. “What Does It Mean”

Understanding the differences in the meanings of different words can have in very similar phrases can be difficult, but doing so can be rewarding. When it comes to the phrases “what does that mean” and “what does it mean”, they may be used interchangeably at times but can have the most effect when used correctly.

What Is The Difference Between “What Does That Mean” And “What Does It Mean”?

The difference between the phrases “what does that mean” and “what does it mean” can be subtle. “What does that mean” is used when you are asking for more information about something specific, while “what does it mean” is used when you are asking about something more general.

What Does That Mean vs. What Does It Mean

These two phrases can be both exclusive in how they are used, or they may, at times, be used interchangeably as they are universally understood as an inquiry for more information or clarification about something.

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When Should I Use “What Does That Mean”?

The correct time to use the phrase “what does that mean” is when you are looking for further clarification on something specific, such as what someone has said, how someone is feeling, or what something, such as a sign, says.

Here are some example sentences demonstrating how you should use the phrase “what does that mean” correctly when in a conversation.

  • Sharron: The stars will be in your favor on the next full moon.
  • Jacob: What does that mean for my future?
  • Billy: We are rescheduling your requested time off for three weeks from now.
  • Bob: What does that mean for the exams that I have going on?
  • Larry: Why do fire ants have to live around here all year long?
  • Madison: What does that mean?
  • Sheryl: What do you mean you don’t know about the 14th Article of the Constitution?
  • Kelly: What does that mean in terms I could actually understand?

When Should I Use “What Does It Mean”?

You should use the phrase “what does it mean” when you want to receive further clarification on a more general and broad range. This could be the definition of a word, an inquiry into a broad subject, or

Although learning to correctly use phrases in sentences and statements, using available references can help you learn how to use the phrase “what does it mean”.

  • George: I consider myself to be quite the pluviophile.
  • Tina: What does it mean because I definitely didn’t understand that.
  • Alex: The sun and the stars orbit us and our small insignificant planet while we happen to exist at this moment, but why?
  • Terry: What does it mean?
  • Jeffrey: Did you hear that they’re removing Medicaid and Medicare along with state insurance?
  • Jessy: What does it mean for our healthcare system?
  • Chad: I heard that we won’t be transitioning to electric vehicles and wind energy because the process of making them and maintaining them is actually doing more damage to the environment and ecosystems than our current transportation and energy solutions.
  • Bret: What does it mean for the future of our planet?

Are “What Does That Mean” And “What Does It Mean” Interchangeable?

The phrase “what does that mean” and the phrase “what does it mean” both have a different and subtle meaning which depends on the context of the statement the phrase is found in, though they are often used interchangeably.

In American English, both the phrase “what does that mean” and the phrase “what does it mean” are commonly used interchangeably due to the fact that both phrases can have an almost identical meaning which is commonly understood by people

Is “What Does That Mean” Or “What Does It Mean” Used The Most?

As shown in this Google Ngram Viewer, you can see that while both phrases tend to follow each other closely in usage over the years, the phrase “what does it mean” is the more popularly used phrase of the two.

What Does That Mean vs. What Does It Mean english usage

In the early 1980s, both phrases saw a massive upward trend in their usage, though as of the current date, the phrase “what does that mean” has started to stagnate slowly while “what does it mean” has continued to increase in usage and has continued to be the more popular of the two phrases.

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