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How to say “I mean” in Chinese


Hi everyone,

“I mean” in Chinese is “我的意思是……“ I take it. But what if I wanted to use it more casually, as an interjection — to further narrow down or elaborate on something I said before?

As in
“We’re late – I mean, if we don’t go right now, the movie is going to be over by the time we arrive"

“You can’t be serious? – I mean, You would have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life!”

How would you translate “I mean” in such a scenario? I mean – there is a translation for this, no?



I think I’ve usually heard “我是说” in this kind of context


ok, thanks! “我是说” is close enough, I guess.


It can be translated easily enough, 我的意思是, or 我是說 which would work in a similar manner, but that type of emphatic rephrasing is not commonly used in Chinese, or at least not here in Taiwan.

@GwilymJames , @Constance_Fang, @Fiona care to add your local perspective here?


A related phrase is 就是说。。。。。。which translates as “that is to say.”


我只是說。。。 would be yet another way to express it.


riceeater, 我只是说 is a bit different, it means "I am merely saying. " Just sayin’ . . . :wink:


@podster, Yes. Now that I think about it, you are right, 我只是說, narrows the focus as the following statement clarifies meaning, which is kinda the opposite of the original sample sentences given in English at the start of this thread which seemed to be used to strengthen the tone with somewhat sarcastic emphasis.

Semantics and tone definitely make for interesting discussions on translation.