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Language tip of the week: mean

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In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are based on areas of English which learners often find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc.

This week some advice about the verb mean:

When you want to say what something involves or what its result is, use the verb mean followed by the -ing form. Don’t use an infinitive:
✗ Being tolerant means not to be prejudiced.
✓ Being tolerant means not being prejudiced.
✗ Reversing these changes would mean to challenge the power of the government.
✓ Reversing these changes would mean challenging the power of the government.

Use mean with an infinitive when you want to say that someone intends to do something:
They intend to pour cash into the health service, but they also mean to reform it.

In this sense, mean is often used in the passive:
Taking children into care is meant to be in the interests of the children, not the state.

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Kati Sule

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