Which is correct?

Did what I say make sense to you?

Did what I said make sense to you?

  • You copy? Savvy? 10-4? – Dan Ray Nov 22 '11 at 14:28
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    The first example jars because it mixes past tense "did" with present tense "say". It's largely irrelevant to agonise over whether the tense should be present (Does what I say...), or past (Did what I said...) - what matters is that the choice should be consistently applied. – FumbleFingers Nov 22 '11 at 14:44
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    Either seems clumsy. I would just say "Do you understand?". – Mohandas Grande Nov 22 '11 at 16:05

What you said was presumably in the past, so you need to say:

Did what I said make sense to you?


Replace 'what I X' with a pronoun:

Did it make sense to you?

Since this is in the past tense, whatever 'it' is should probably occur before then, and so is in the past also.

In a ... confused semantics, 'it' might be referring to what you are saying now ('what I say', which happens to have been intended to be the same as what was said before.

So 'Did what I say make sense to you?' is understandable and not terribly jarring to the ear, but is not strictly the logical way to say it and your newspaper copy editor would take away a vacation day for it.


In addition to Barrie's answer I think you can alternatively use:

  • "Does what I'm saying make sense to you?"
  • "Does what I say make sense to you?"
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    True, but that gives rather a different time frame. – Barrie England Nov 22 '11 at 13:46
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    Yes, in my case you would be asking your question about the content of your present conversation, whereas in your solution you were asking about a previous statement of yours. – Raku Nov 22 '11 at 13:53

Previous answers have suggested that

Did what I say make sense to you?

is incorrect because of a tense problem, and that

Did what I said make sense to you?

is alright. However, the first phrasing sounds more natural. It says, briefly but properly,

Did the advice I provided and still provide make sense to you?


Did is about make sense here -- not about say. With that, everything should start making sense I suppose. "Did what I said make sense to you?" should be perfectly right.


If you're asking about something in the past, you should use the past tense: said.

To suggest a different way of saying this, I would assume that the person knows what you are asking about and say:

Did that make sense (to you)?

protected by tchrist Mar 9 '16 at 11:46

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