Three children explore the difference between the words 'mean' and 'meaning'


Now try to explain to little George about the difference between “privilege” and “privilege”.

George is at that perilous stage of grammar acquisition that enables him to understand that “meaning” and “mean” share the same root word, but has not yet learned that mean means different things under different circumstances.

I hope his other lessons about the multiple meanings of various words don’t seem to him to be a personal attack :frowning:

Yes! I would hate for him to later be miserly in his use of words, or for his vocabulary to be average! Hopefully he will have the tools or methods to avoid this!


I see what you did there :wink:

I am not sure I grasp the gist of your message.

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Also slightly stirred by the increasing use if the analytic copula plus present participle instead of the synthetic present. (George is meaning, rather than George means) If you’re seeing what I’m meaning.

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I don’t know. I think he was nicing.


It’s kind of funny, I never think about grammar and the mechanics of language unless I’m looking at something that isn’t English.

I spent 3 years studying Spanish, and that was a ton of work. It’s not as easy as English because of noun and article gendering which is completely illogical and unnecessary, as well as the fact that there are six conjugations per verb per tense. And there’s two past-tenses, as well as the present tense, and I never saw any mention of a future tense in all my three years studying Spanish. The closest to future tense was someone in the present who has hopes about something.

I have no idea how you might say something like “yesterday will have had been my grandfather’s 100th birthday.”

Maybe I’ve forgotten it? Or maybe the future tense just wasn’t considered important enough to teach in high school and freshman college classes.

Wow, totally rambled off track there. Suffice it to say, what I was getting at is: Language is fun.

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You could use ir a + infinitive or the infinitive with -é, -ás, -á, -emos, -éis, -án as the ending (where the verb is regular). For the immediate future, you can just use the present tense.

I think it would be “Ayer habrá sido el centésimo cumpleaños de mi abuelo” (if the idea is that it must have been his 100th yesterday, or hubiera sido if he’s dead and he would have been 100 yesterday).


I totally forgot about “Ir a + infinitive”. Geez, I’m practically Martian, I’ve gotten so rusty on my Spanish. I mean, I know that I sound like some kind of demon-baby-caveman when I speak it nowadays, but I totally forgot about pretty much the simplest way to get into the future tense. And it’s so easy, as long as you’re asserting what’s going to happen.

Dealing with accents is one thing I can say I’ll never miss from Spanish class. But there is something deeply compelling to me about using a structured set of rules to express nearly infinite concepts with a few words strung together. It’s like… using regular lego blocks to build bigger lego blocks that you can use to build spaceships and particle colliders and store all of human knowledge.


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