Are these interchangeable?

  • Do you have anything in your mind?
  • Do you have anything on your mind?

The first form seems to be the most commonly used one. But the second form is also used in some instances. And I am not sure if there is any difference at all. If both are correct, what is the difference?

5 Answers 5


I don't think in your mind would be used as in your example. However we do say:

  • Do you have anything in mind?

which means "What is it you are thinking of?" or "Do you have a preference/suggestion?"

Want to go out for lunch?

Sure. What do you have in mind?

How about that new Thai place?

in your mind is used to mean "in your imagination".

I swear, that guy is after me.

Oh relax, it's just in your mind.

And on your mind indicates worry or preoccupation.

You look worried. Do you have anything on your mind?

  • Thanks, but in The NY Times edition dated June 7th, 1878link it says: Q.-Had you anything in your mind that his business was to work on you with... Thoughts?
    – user17857
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:50
  • And why would Facebook say: What's on your mind? Does that mean worries... I don't think so.
    – user17857
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 8:01
  • 1
    @Mohammed Facebook's "What's on your mind?" means "What is preoccupying you".
    – slim
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 11:22
  • Yes, "on your mind" is not always worry. But it is definitely about being preoccupied, which might mean you can't stop thinking about a good thing that happened, or are anticipating something in the future. Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 14:02
  • @Mohammad: The usage in the NYT quote seems to express the idea of "Did you ever imagine that..." or "Did it ever occur to you that...", which is close to the meaning of "in your imagination". Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 14:07

When something or someone is on your mind, it means that you think and worry about this thing or person a lot.

When you have something or someone in your mind, you just think of this thing or person without the worrying connotation.

  • 1
    Facebook says: "What's on your mind". Does it mean that you are worried about something?
    – user17857
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 8:02
  • 1
    Upon reading this, the old country/pop ballad "Always On My Mind" popped into my mind. Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 14:12

When speaking of, or asking about, what someone is thinking (or planning to do), overwhelmingly the most common wording is to ask what they have in mind (never have on mind)...

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I can't use a chart to show the difference between have in your mind and have on your mind, but normally the in version reflects the above thinking, planning sense. The on version is only used in respect of obsessive, troubling thoughts which are preying on your mind. Sometimes rather less extreme - not so much oppressive as ever so slightly bothersome. Just things which for some reason you're diffident about saying to other people.

OP's Do you have anything in your mind? would not normally be used in any context - except maybe facetiously, to mean something like Do you not have any ability to think at all? The second version would be normal phrasing if you had reason to suspect something might be bothering the other person, but weren't sure. If you knew something was wrong you'd ask What's on your mind?


The difference may not be sharp clear. Considering in and on, "mind" can be used in these patterns: in mind, in or on my/your/his mind.

"In your/my/his mind" may mostly imply activities including "memory", "recollection", "remembrance", "plan", "intention" e.t.c.

He spent the next hour going over the trial in his mind.

on your mind, on the other hand, may imply "busyness", "thinking a lot" e.t.c - which may mean "worry about" or " to have something to say" or something else as a "result"

I have a lot on my mind at the moment

Yes, I think in many cases they are interchangeable.

How can I forget you when your always on my mind? ~ Unknown

What's On Your Mind? ~ Facebook

I just simply write as it moves me. I may be writing about a book or a movie or a person, places where I've been or something I've done. Or politics. It's going to what's on my mind at the moment. ~ Tina Brown.

I don't think any of the above quotes suggest that the person is thinking and worrying about the thing they have on their mind. Though, having something "on your mind" may often imply that you are worried about it, it doesn't apply in all cases.

Generally, On my mind , if used to just convey about your thoughts, can be replaced by In my mind.