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Words with mulitiple meanings-do you find them difficult?


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Which language would you consider easiest to learn?  

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  1. 1. Which language would you consider easiest to learn?

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There are many english words that have multiple meanings and usages.  Just recently I was speaking with a friend who speaks Russian and English as a second language.  I used the word "exact" in the context of someone trying to exact revenge on another.  My friend said exact really threw her as she never heard it used other than as "precise, or the very thing".  Do you think these words create difficulty and can you give any examples?

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"Exacting revenge" is a pretty obscure usage of the word, and it's not generally used in day to day conversations so I can definitely see where you're coming from. One of my biggest pitfalls is the term "money making", or "making money". For some reason I always interpret it as "money, which is making something", e.g. "Shame about the lack of money making options in town".

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I've never thought of exacting revenge before, but it does sound familiar. I don't think people still say it, they are a lot less formal nowadays. Anyway, I don't really have that much problems with multiple meanings, even if I don't know the word, usually you could pick up on what is meant by the surrounding context alone. "Fold", for example, can be used as a term for surrendering or retreating, and it's hard to misinterpret it as the literal folding action when being spoken of in terms of a card game or a contest.

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I was under the impression that most languages had words with multiple meanings - at least every one I know does. Surely dealing with words with multiple meaning in other languages shouldn't be so different from words in your own language?

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This is one of the reasons many people find English is hard to learn because most words have multiple meanings. For me, I don't find it is difficult to learn because I usually understand the meaning of the word by reading the sentence. That is whatnI have learned in all my English instructors.

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I don't think it confuses me too much because I can guess which meaning is implied based on the context of the sentence. What really confuses me is when words sound alike and have different spelling. Ugh, so confusing at times.  :clown:

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My native language (French) also has many words having multiple meanings. In my opinion, learning all the meanings of a word from a dictionnary in pointless. Most of the time, relying on the sole context is enough to figure out what the word means.

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There are English words with multiple meanings and although you find it confusing in the beginning but when you will analyze and understand its different meanings it will be easy for you already to remember the words.

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I generally don't have too much trouble with them, but there are occasions when it gets tricky. One of the more difficult ones is when someone uses "bomb" as a slang term. Depending on the way it is used, it could mean something good or bad.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So many homonyms exist in not only English, but other languages across the world. Because of their multiple meanings, context is so important. Usually with context, the meaning of the word can be figured out. It's easy to do so in words such as "bow" or "bark." The more difficult words are like the one you pointed out "exact." I've heard of "exact" being used as "exacting revenge," but the problem is it's not used everyday, so people do not really recognize it that often. These are the things you just have to know, but context can help tremendously.

Probably the only way for people to truly learn words with multiple definitions or with opposite slang meanings is immersion. The education system for foreign languages teaches us a vocabulary word and its definition in English, but that is not enough to learn the whole picture.

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I know that words with multiple meanings can prove difficult for alot of people, especially if it is not their native language :sad:. However, the key to mastering the problem is to consider the context in which the word is being used :cool:. By the time you are done, you would have also known its meaning if you did not :smile:.

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  • 4 years later...

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