Dear ESL student;

We all know how tricky English grammar can be. English vocabulary is at times even more treacherous!

That is why we offer our second installment of daily English learning on the subject of words that serve dual purposes.

As diligent as you are about learning English, we are sure you already know all about homographs – words that are written the same but are pronounced differently.

This article does not address homographs, homonyms or homophones. However, you can refer to this sheet should there be any confusion over which is which.

The English language is unarguably the most popular language in the world. Thanks to colonialism, the English language is spoken in 5 out of 7 continents. Over 50 countries, including Canada, speak English as one of their official languages.

Do you know that more than 75% of Canada's population speaks English? The other percentage speaks French. As in other parts of the world, double-meaning phrases are common among Canadians. If you're interested in learning double meaning in English, it's not hard. For a cunning linguist, making sentences with a double meaning is a piece of cake.

However, for someone still new to the concept, it may seem strange at first. But once you learn the logic behind it, you'll find it easy – and interesting. To better understand the concept and the usage of double meanings, you should employ the help of an English teacher online. Superprof has a large number of linguists skilled in the English language and experienced in double meanings.

All you need to do is visit Superprof's official website, and you can choose a lesson or tutor that meets your needs. Interestingly, you will find the best tutor closest to you regardless of your location in Canada.

So, what do we mean by double-function words? Read on to find out!

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How Does it Relate to English Language Learning?

Double meaning in English is commonly referred to as 'double entendre.' It is a figure of speech in English where one statement is used to convey two meaningsDouble entendre is derived from an obsolete French term that means 'dual understanding.'

A double meaning or double entendre would normally have a surface meaning with an underlying expression. The second meaning is typically coarse. That can be intentional or unintentional. The underlying meaning of a double entendre is normally of an indelicate nature. That is, it usually connotes a sexual or otherwise obscene interpretation.

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How is a figure of speech able to portray double meanings? There is an innate ambiguity in the way various English words or phrases can be used. Users of double entendre rely on that. Puns are a perfect use of double meanings in the English language. If interpreted literally, a double entendre is an innocent statement with no ironic or obscene connotations.

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Learn Canada English
Learning English double meanings takes some time and patience. Source: Pexels

You can find double entendre in all kinds of literature.

Double meanings in the English language are similar to innuendos. Both entail a harmless and innocent statement with a second interpretation not easily deduced. They are used to convey an otherwise socially-offensive message in an inoffensive way. However, where a double entendre is always used as a pun, an innuendo can be used negatively.

Learning different ways to speak English is an effective way of improving the language. Using double entendre helps you improve your English-speaking skill, so you sound more like a native English speaker. When you use a double entendre, you challenge yourself to become better at speaking English.

A double entendre can be useful in teaching, learning, as well as in communicating. It helps demonstrate the complex nature of English words, communications, and expressions. It also comes in handy during presentations, in public speaking, and writing. A double meaning is instrumental in describing the subtlety of the English language – how words can sometimes be confusing.

Do you know that a double meaning can also be used as a metaphor?

What Are Examples of Double Function Verbs in Canada English?

Verbs are described as 'sneaky words' in the English language. This function is seen in the way they are commonly used as a double meaning.

The English language spoken in Canada is in between British English and American English. Sometimes, Canadians prefer British spelling, by using words like 'centre' or 'colour.' Other times, Canadian English is like general American English. It is sometimes hard to differentiate Canadian English speakers from American English speakers.

Canadians are social and fun-loving people. Canada has sayings and phrases peculiar to it. If there is a place that enjoys using double meaning words the most, it would most likely be Canada. Examples of double function verbs you would find in Canadian English include:

  • Taste;
  • Like;
  • Appear;
  • Feel;
  • Grow;
  • Become;
  • Look;
  • Turn;
  • Smell;
  • Hit;
  • Return;
  • Get over;
  • Come;
  • Run;
  • Take;
  • Break;
  • Set;

Before and After

This pair of time indicators can by one of three types of words, depending on where in the sentence they are placed.

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Before and After can be conjunctions, prepositions or adverbs.
Before and After change type, depending on how they are used. Source: Pixabay Credit: PhotoEditing

Before I enrol in further English courses in London, I want to see if I can learn English online.

I will call you after I finish my reading comprehension exercise.

When before/after precede or follow the clause they depend on, they are conjunctions.

However, when they come before a noun or pronoun, they are considered prepositions, as in these examples:

I will sit for IELTS before Jack will.

I want to enroll in business English courses in London after I pass my ESOL exam.

Finally: when used independent of any clause and away from pronouns and nouns, this sneaky pair of words are considered adverbs.

Have you ever said a sentence like this?

I have chatted with native English speakers before.

Before describes when you've chatted, therefore it is an adverb.

Here is an example, using after:

Someone on the bus kept sneezing. Shortly after, I began to feel sick.

Can you think of a few examples for each of before/after's three forms?

Learn more about English Grammar Clauses in our dedicated blog.

Nouns as Adjectives

You surely learned how to make adverbs out of adjectives in your basic English classes. Although that is a type of dual-function word, it is not exactly the type we are talking about.

Adding the suffix -ly to an adjective changes the word enough for it to qualify as an independent word, with a function of its own.

This particular group of words does not fit into the category now being discussed. Like homonyms, they have the same spelling and pronunciation, but unlike homonyms, they keep the same meaning – homonyms change the meaning.

Are you an English learner or an Esl teacher?

In this sentence, English and Esl – although generally nouns, both function as adjectives, describing the learner and the teacher, respectively.

Bonus Lesson: when one noun clearly functions as an adjective modifying another noun, no hyphen is needed. However, when the two nouns are in equal standing – have equal weight and value in the sentence, you must write a hyphen between them.

For example:

English teachers at my language school are hand-picked.

In this sentence, English modifies – helps define what type of teacher; therefore it gets no hyphen.

However, hand and picked have equal importance in giving meaning, therefore they are joined by a hyphen.

As though nouns acting as adjectives were not tricky enough, there are rules for when to write these compound word phrases separately, with a hyphen or together, as one word. See the sentence below:

You should be present for every school day during every school year, but your schoolmates and schoolteacher might miss a day here and there. Nevertheless, everyone completes their schoolwork.

This example uses the noun-turned-adjective five different times, but only twice is school written separately from its partner noun.

Adjectives as Nouns

If nouns can describe other nouns, then adjectives can also serve as nouns.

Students of English as a second language participated in feeding the homeless.

Homeless is traditionally used as an adjective to describe someone who has no home but, in this case, that word names everyone who has no home.

The general rule is that, if you can put an article in front of an adjective, it can serve as a noun, like so:

The English are proud of their writing skills.

It is understood that expressions using adjectives as nouns are plural. Therefore the verb tense is usually third person plural.

Find out more about English language style and form in our dedicated blog.

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Brian knox
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Brian knox
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Laura
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Laura
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Alaa
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Alaa
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Florence
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Florence
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Lorraine
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Lorraine
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Here and now
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5 (7 reviews)
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Ethan
5
5 (67 reviews)
Ethan
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Jose
4.9
4.9 (37 reviews)
Jose
$21
/h
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1st lesson is free!
Brian knox
5
5 (20 reviews)
Brian knox
$30
/h
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Laura
5
5 (15 reviews)
Laura
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1st lesson is free!
Alaa
5
5 (64 reviews)
Alaa
$50
/h
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Florence
5
5 (4 reviews)
Florence
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Lorraine
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Double Function Verbs

If ever there was a sneaky word type in the English language, verbs would be them.

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look is a double-function word
Are these men looking at something, or just looking good? Source: Pixabay Credit: Komposita

As though learning to conjugate and use regular and irregular verbs in all sixteen tenses were not enough of a challenge, verbs can be: linking or action, transitive or intransitive, modal or auxiliary.

Of course, any given verb can be modal, action or auxiliary. This installment of studying English involves those that can be either linking or action, transitive or intransitive – depending on how they are used.

Sean looked at his English writing assignment for a long time.

In this case, Sean is actively doing something, therefore look is an action verb.

Sean looked so good at Esol practice class!

Here, Sean is not performing any action; looked links Sean to good.

The list of verbs that can be either linking or action include:

  • taste
  • like
  • appear
  • become
  • feel
  • grow
  • look
  • taste
  • smell
  • turn

Can you write a linking and an action sentence for each one?

When speaking English, it hardly matters that the verb is either linking or action, only that you use it correctly. However, this next set of verbs is critical to understand.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Your early English lessons taught you that the standard sentence format is: subject-verb-object.

What was perhaps not mentioned is that those verbs are all transitive – meaning: they can have a direct object.

The difference between these two types of verbs are their ability to act on objects.

Alan practises his English language skills every day.

Practise is a transitive verb because it has a direct object: language skills.

Sheila slept through her spoken English class.

Slept is an intransitive verb because it has no object.

The best way to find out if a verb is transitive is to ask what? or who? after the subject-verb portion of the sentence.

Sheila slept what? - as this sentence is not correct, we find that slept must be intransitive.

Be aware that some verbs can be transitive or intransitive, depending on usage.

Tony demonstrated his proficiency in English for Business.

Cathy demonstrated at the protest.

Which one is transitive?

The Oxford English Dictionary provides a partial list of verb that can/cannot have a direct object.

Perhaps you have another source to help you determine which verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

The Ultimate Function-Changing Word: Up

  • At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
  • Why do we speak UP, stand UP, and put UP or shut UP?
  • Why are politicians UP for election?
  • Why is it UP to the secretary to write UP the meeting minutes?
  • We ring UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.
  • We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

This two-letter word has more meanings and functions than most other English words.

Up is listed in the dictionary as an adverb, adjective, a preposition and a verb.

To be knowledgeable about the many uses of this word, you should look the word UP in your dictionary.

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The Debate: Is This Depth of Knowledge Necessary?

Native English speakers learn their language by copying their adults' mouth movements and sounds. Little to no thought is given to the intricacies of grammar until the student is well-entrenched into his/her academic career.

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Learning grammar is essential to using English properly
You do not need to know every engine part in order to drive a car. Source: Pixabay Credit: Krzysiek

In early education, the emphasis is placed on proper pronunciation, and reading and writing skills; language learning itself happens as a matter of course.

By contrast, non native English speakers delve deeply into grammar rules. In some parts of the world, students are given little opportunity to exercise their English grammar skills.

Listening skills are, for the most part, developed independently through students' sheer determination and hard work.

One does not need to understand how an engine functions in order to operate a motor vehicle.

Just as you don't need to know the function of a spark plug or piston in order to qualify for a driving licence; you probably don't need to know whether a verb is transitive or intransitive in order to conjugate it and use it correctly.

To make our point, we expand on last article's introductory quote: if the vocabulary is the building blocks of the English language, then grammar must surely be the mortar that holds it together.

Maybe it is not necessary to know why some words serve more than one function in order to speak English properly, but if you want a strong foundation for your English language skills, then you must improve your English by knowing every nut and bolt that holds it together.

Why Should You Learn English's Double Meaning?

You gain a lot from learning English's double meaning. Five major reasons why you should learn English's double meaning include:

  • You Speak More Native-Like English.

To improve in English language learning, you should learn English's double meaning. Double meaning words help illustrate the complexity and subtlety of the language. It describes how words and communications can be confusing. As such, you gain better mastery of the language. That way, you can wield it at your whim.

  • Get Familiarized with the Imperfections of the English Language

If you are new to the language, double meaning words help you point out imperfections in grammar rules and nonsensical spellings. You can use double meaning phrases or sentences to describe misplaced punctuations and misspelled words.

  • Your Vocabulary Improves

When you do further research on words with double meaning, you improve your chances at English language learning. You take note of words and phrases and find out why they are funny. You then build your vocabulary to connect words.

  • Become a Better Writer and Communicator

Learning double meaning equips you to demonstrate the complex nature of English words, expressions, and communications. You express yourself better in words written or spoken.

  • Aids English Language Learning

Double meaning words increase your chances of  . English words have a complex system of spellings, pronunciations, and meanings. For effective English language learning, you might want to learn English's double meanings.

Where Can You Learn English's Double Meaning?

There are several online educational resources that teach English's double meaning. You can find them on various social media platforms like YouTube. 

However, your best bet at learning English's double meaning would be finding someone skilled in that aspect to tutoring you. You can start by hiring an English online teacher. There are countless English online teachers on many online educational platforms, and one of such is Superprof.

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Learning Canada English
Superprof tutors can teach you all aspects of the English language at your spare time. Source: Pexels

Superprof is a great online learning platform where you can understand the concept of double meaning. You can also master the art of using them. Superprof has English online teachers who are skilled and cunning linguists. They are the best set of people to teach you English's double meaning. Learning English for adults is made easy and comfortable with Superprof.

Learning English's double meaning takes great precision. It's not hard; it just requires practice and paying attention to details. 

Can An English Teacher Online Help You Learn English Better?

The English language, though widely spoken, is one of the most difficult languages to master because of its many rules. This is due to the language's inconsistencies, illogical rules, and difficult spelling. That, nonetheless, no one is incapable of learning the English language. With the help of a professional and seriousness on your part, you can learn the English language.

English language learning online is not conventional, unlike the old-fashioned classroom classes. However, you can learn just as much as you would online, offline. With a lot of practice, you can skillfully master the English language.

Before technology came, many students had to rely on private tutors to train them physically. Learning English for adults was possible but quite uncomfortable. We cannot, however, deny that physical training helped many. Difficult subjects were solved upon tutoring. Private tutors helped students pass exams and tests and also guided them on how to solve difficult questions. The question then is: can online tutoring top that?

Aside from offering the same benefits, maybe even more, online English tutoring has made English language learning a lot easierLearning English for adults is even more productive now than ever before. The reason is not far-fetched. All of this is possible because of the many benefits online English tutoring provides. These include:

  • Unlimited access to a stack of endless online resources. Unlike in physical classes where you need a textbook, a pdf version of the textbook would suffice for online classes;
  • Cheaper and more affordable learning. Learning English for adults and all levels is cheap and much more affordable compared to other means. All you need most of the time are stable connections and mobile data. If you have to pay at all, it isn't a lot.
  • Tutors are vetted. On Superprof, for example, the tutors are experienced personnel in their fields. Even some of the professors in the physical classroom are among the English teachers online. Tutors are usually vast in knowledge of the subjects they teach. As such, you would be getting the best from them.
  • Due to the flexibility of online English learning, you have the opportunity of learning new skills. Therefore, beyond educational benefits, studying English online has real-life benefits to offer too.

Double entendre is especially popular in Canada. One of the ways to blend with the style of living in Canada is to learn double meanings. Otherwise, you would find yourself being lost amid conversations.

Learning English's double meaning is easier and more effective when tutored by a professional in the subject. Superprof has a band of experienced English teachers online, willing and ready to adjust their time to suit your learning needs.

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Marvis

Marvis Osarhenrhen is a freelance SEO writer focused on helping businesses reach their target audience, get leads and increase revenue using optimized content.