The second word in our series to boost your vocabulary is MEAN. Mean can be a tricky word because of its complexities in the English language as well as the different collocations that you need to learn. This post is aimed at resolving the doubts concerned with how to use mean:
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Mean can be used as a verb, a noun or an adjective and generally changes with the word class. You need to take into account the context and other factors including syntax to understand it well:
Mean (verb) – emphasise, intend, imply, result in, signify, entail
Mean (noun) – mathematical average, type, money
Mean (adjective) – rude, bad, stingy, unkind, bad, petty
The most common way to use mean is to express an idea or a fact, to give the meaning if you will:
What do you mean? = ¿Qué quieres decir?
What does stingy mean? = ¿Qué significa stingy?
We also use mean to emphasise a point, usually with a Cleft sentence:
What I mean is that we will be late if you don´t hurry up.
What I meant was that the assignment wasn´t finished yet.
Do it and I mean now!
Mean can also be used as intend:
I meant to meet you last night, but I got held up at work.
I have been meaning to call you for ages.
Mean can also be by accident, not on purpose, not intentionally:
I didn´t mean to bump into you, I am so clumsy.
I am sorry about what I said, I didn´t mean it.
Mean = to have a result or likely to result in:
I have spent all my money so it means I can´t go to the concert.
The rise in prices means that the standard of living is likely to fall.
Mean as a noun has various meanings:
What is the mean of the 4 months? = refers to the average taken
What is your favourite means of transport? = type of transport
For our Spanish learners, when you are speaking and you make a mistake, you can say:
I USUALLY GO TO WORK BY BUS, I MEAN BY TRAIN. It is like when you use “digo”…
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Collocations with mean:
Mean to/with someone – to be bad to someone
Mean business – to do something seriously
Be meant for (each other) – be a perfect match for
Have the means to – have the money or support to
Mean no harm – not be dangerous
A means by which – through, by way of
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The best way to improve your vocabulary is through the use of language. Try taking 5 or 6 words or collocations each day and put them into context. It is essential to recall vocabulary frequently and use all 4 core skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening).
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