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    #1

    hello may I ask a silly question...?

    hi everybody,

    I have a silly question...I know it maybe a simple question but I'm not sure if it's grammatically correct...so please could anyone tell me?

    1. May I ask what it mean?
    2. May I ask what it means?
    3. May I ask what does it mean?
    4. May I ask what that mean?
    5. May I ask what that means?

    Which of the above sentence is correct?
    And for no.4 & 5, I think they're both correct because "that" can imply both singular or plural nouns, am I right?

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    #2

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    Quote Originally Posted by littlebaby View Post
    Hi everybody,

    I have a silly question. I know it maybe may be a simple question but I'm not sure if it's grammatically correct so please could anyone tell me?

    1. May I ask what it mean? Incorrect.
    2. May I ask what it means? Correct.
    3. May I ask what does it mean? Incorrect.
    4. May I ask what that mean? Incorrect.
    5. May I ask what that means? Correct.

    Which of the above sentences are correct?
    And for no.4 & 5, I think that 4 and 5 are they're both correct because "that" can imply both singular or plural nouns, am I right?
    No. "That" is the singular. "Those" is the corresponding plural.
    See above.

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    #3

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    See above.
    Thank you very much!
    I think you're strict but it really clears my head

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    #4

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    Quote Originally Posted by littlebaby View Post
    Thank you very much!
    I think you're strict but it really clears my head
    Strict is good! We try to correct all errors as well as answering questions. If we allow a spelling error (or something similar) to remain in a post, the poster (and other learners) might continue to think that it is correct and keep using it.

    I'm glad you now have a clear head.

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    #5

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    May I ask what is wrong with "May I ask what does it mean?"?
    Thank you

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    #6

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    Quote Originally Posted by learner1234 View Post
    May I ask what is wrong with "May I ask what does it mean?"?
    Thank you
    It should be "May I ask what it means?" The question part of that sentence is "May I...?" which could also be expressed as "Can I...?" so that is the part of the sentence which is inverted to make it a question. You do not then need to invert "it means" into "does it mean".

    If you simply said "What does it mean?" that would be correct.

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    #7

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    It should be "May I ask what it means?" The question part of that sentence is "May I...?" which could also be expressed as "Can I...?" so that is the part of the sentence which is inverted to make it a question. You do not then need to invert "it means" into "does it mean".

    If you simply said "What does it mean?" that would be correct.
    I understood that "What does it mean?" is correct, but I thought "it does mean" can also be used as "it means" for some situations. That is the reason I ask why "May I ask what does it mean?" is not correct.

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    #8

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    Quote Originally Posted by learner1234 View Post
    I understood that "What does it mean?" is correct, but I thought "it does mean" can also be used as "it means" for some situations. That is the reason I ask why "May I ask what does it mean?" is not correct.
    You would only use "does it mean" in a direct question like "What does it mean?" where that is the full question.

    If you replace the word "it" with, for example, a word you are unsure of, you may see my point. Imagine you are confused about the word "genius". You can say...

    May I ask what genius means?
    Genius - what does it mean?
    Genius - may I ask what it means?
    What does genius mean?

    We would rarely use "it does mean" in place of "it means" unless we were trying to be very emphatic. Imagine the following conversation:

    - Genius means a very clever person.
    - No, you're wrong. It means a friendly person.
    - Are you sure? I thought it meant a very clever person.
    - I'm sure it means a friendly person.
    - I've just looked it up in the dictionary. I'm right. It does mean "very clever".

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    #9

    Re: hello may I ask a silly question...?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    You would only use "does it mean" in a direct question like "What does it mean?" where that is the full question.

    ...
    And as you can't hear quotes (though there are paralinguistic features (intonation) that you can hear...) students may well meet things like 'May I ask what does it mean?' in speech, and also in writing by the less careful.

    (One way of avoiding the problem of handling the finite verb is to ask 'What is the meaning of...?)

    b

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