In English, “what” is an interrogative pronoun. An interrogative pronoun typically represents something unknown to the speaker.

When used in a sentence, the following words must be according to the correct sentence structure to make sense to the reader.

In this comparison, the statements “what does this mean?” and “what is this meaning” apply the interrogative pronoun, but one statement is in the simple present tense while the other is in the present continuous tense.

Are both sentences correct?

Both sentences are correct according to the instances used. Based on the application, the sentences are grammatically correct.

For example, when someone is coding or researching and comes across complex information, they may ask, “Exactly what is this meaning?” In this case, they may seek to find an answer while working on something.

“What does this mean?” aims to find an immediate answer. Depending on the application, both sentences are correct. 

When to use “What does this mean?”

This statement applies when inquiring about something that requires an immediate response. Someone might need an immediate answer to solve a specific issue when coding.

This question, “what does this mean?” assists in identifying a possible solution to the error that has occurred, solving it immediately before proceeding with the other coding steps.

This English statement is used when one seeks to find an answer in the simple present tense. Further, this statement also applies when asking about something under discussion.

For instance, when discussing a mathematical problem and you do not understand what the other participants are explaining, for clarification, you can ask, “What does this mean?”

This question is about a specific concept you do not understand in the explanations. This query can assist you in understanding bizarre actions, such as finding a ring in your cake while snacking. 

When to use “What is this meaning?”

While most people might argue that this statement is incorrect, it does make sense based on the application.

For example, using the same coding example, when someone continues coding while seeking a solution to an error in the code, they might ask themselves when the error recurs, “what is this meaning?”

However, this statement only makes sense when applied in a continuous situation.

The continuous nature shows that it is a progressive inquiry. The individual asking the question continues with the task while trying to solve a possible issue.

Additionally, this statement applies when wondering about the state of things. For example, most people ask, “what is this teaching me?”

This question applies while an individual is reflecting. Similarly, the question “what is this meaning applies when an individual is reflecting on the various events in their life or specific activity they are involved in to find a lasting solution or lesson. 

How do most English-speaking people use these two sentences?

“What is this meaning?” is usually used among Indian-English speakers when speaking about a continuous activity inquiry.

However, Americans also use this statement when they incur a repeated pattern in something they cannot comprehend. “What does this mean?” is used by English-speaking people in the West when making a general inquiry about something that needs immediate attention.

When people ask, “What is this meaning?” it is usually to understand where the events are leading to, considering the query’s continuous nature. Different English-speaking people use the two statements differently. 

Take Away

Different statements in English have diverse meanings according to their interpretation and specific application. Based on this perspective, both statements are grammatically correct, though the second one in continuous tense is not considered proper in most arguments.

“What does this mean?” and “What is this meaning?” are grammatically correct statements that vary in application but are both applicable in the English language.

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