Hi everyone and welcome to part eight of this beginner English phrases for conversation series.
Today’s phrase is ‘What does this mean?’ This is the most basic phrase that you can use when you don’t know what something means in English. When you don’t understand a word or a phrase. Please note that this question only asks about the meaning. This question is not asking about the pronunciation or how to say a word.
When using this phrase, you can change the word ‘this’ to other words. For example, ‘What does that mean?’ What does it mean? Let’s pretend you hear a new word that you don’t know like ‘icing’. You can say ‘What does icing mean?’
Now some different ways to ask ‘What does this mean’ are ‘What is the meaning of this’ and ‘Can you explain the meaning of this?’
If someone asks you ‘What does this mean’, how can you answer this question correctly? Well the first way is by saying ‘It means’ and then you describe the meaning. Another way you can answer is by saying ‘It’s a’ and then you describe the meaning or you describe the thing.
For example, if you asked me ‘Shane, what does icing mean?’ I would say ‘It’s a mixture of butter, sugar and water that you put on top of a cake to make the cake taste sweeter.’ Or I could say the same thing but start by saying ‘Icing means’ and then explain the meaning.
Now let’s have a look at some common mistakes with this phrase. The first common mistake is when students say ‘What is this mean?’ This is incorrect because we normally use the word ‘is’ with a verb ING, with a noun or with an adjective. But the word ‘mean’ is none of these things. The word ‘mean’ is a verb. That means we need to use the word ‘does’. So to correct this sentence, we can say ‘What does this mean?’
The second mistake is when students answer the question ‘What does this mean’ by saying things like ‘This is mean’ or ‘It is mean’. But this is incorrect. To answer the question, you just need to say ‘This means’ or ‘It means’ and then you give your explanation. You don’t need to say ‘is’.