Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Yes, English Users, last post we broke the news that some words in the English language are affected with multiple personalities.

Looking back, we're truly sorry if we've broken the heart of those who thought that a simple word like "move" only had one meaning.

Today, we'll prove the same holds true for the word "break".

But hey, it doesn't mean that every time you see a new word, you should break out in tears because you have to break the code to break through to the "other" meaning.

So let's break this down in simple terms.

  1. Whatever you read, try to understand and infer the general meaning (or topic) of the text first.
  2. Then and only then, use a dictionary to find words that are unclear.
  3. Remember: words that describe basic ideas, attributes, objects and actions are used in a denotative and connotative ways.
  4. When they are used in a denotative way, the sentence will usually have a simple linear structure. (He broke the glass. Get the report! Where did I put my keys? The box is heavy.)
  5. Beware: often they can also form part of an idiom, so the entire expression gives a connotative meaning to the original word.
  6. There are usually clues in such sentences that will determine if it has a simple denotative meaning or if it's something more complex or connotative. (Remember step 1)
  7. In English - and really in any language - you shouldn't search for the meaning of a word out of context.
Suggested answers from last post:
  • Cool (adj): A temperature approximating cold (denotative) / Something is style or fashionable (connotative)
  • Sharp (adj): A pointed object like a knife (denotative) / A very intelligent person (connotative)
  • Soft (adj): Something that is not hard (denotative) / Lacking strength or courage (connotative)
  • Drive (noun): A trip in a vehicle (denotative) / Inner strength and determination (connotative)
Now try making sentences.

For more meanings of idioms with the word break or any word, check out this link.

And speaking of "break", we now invite you to take a break from all this and have a little fun watching the following video. It's The Simpsons - a show with "multiple personalities" making fun of yet another TV show: the prison drama Prison Break.

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