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Question about the verb "refer" Instead of saying "the word XXX means ………..," can I say "the word XXX refers to ……….." or "the word XXX is referred to as ………..?" How is it right/wrong, how do they differ? Would you mind giving me some examples too? Thanks a great deal, you guys are the best! Note: "………." is the definition of "XXX" Hope that's clear :p
Feb 25, 2010 2:50 AM
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Answers · 3
In addition to what fdmaxey says, you could use refer in many other circumstances, such as "I referred you to another doctor" means "I'm giving another doctor your name so that they can also help you". Refer, in that circumstance, means to recommend. "Refer to page 10 about our policy" means "look at page 10 to learn more about our policy", basically, go and find what you need to know. Refer has many uses.
February 25, 2010
Any place you use "means", you could use "refers to". There is some minor argument over whether this is good usage, but don't worry about it. Example: "The word "dog" refers to a canine mammal of varying sizes and colors." Warning: It DOESN'T work the other way around. "Refers to" can also meant "is related to" or "is qualified as". Also if a doctor sends you to another doctor, he "refers" you to that doctor. Substituting "means" wherever you see "refers to" can get you into trouble. "The word XXX is referred to as..." This means "The word XXX is regarded as...". It is NOT the same as "means" or "is equal to"
February 25, 2010
I would abandon the idea of 'means' altogether. Even when it supposedly works, it's still doesn't mean the same thing. Simply put, in the context of "The word XXX refers to...," it just means something like 'is/are in reference to,' or 'pertains to.' For instance, "Emotions refer to feelings of joy, sorrow, or fear, etc." And no, you can't use any "refers to" any place where you'd use "means." Simple example: "Being human means making mistakes." To say "Being human refers to making mistakes." changes the meaning of the sentence drastically. So, don't use "refer to" when you really mean "means."
February 25, 2010
chen
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Chinese (Mandarin), English
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