What do I think “a good friend” means?

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JJJenifer

Senior Member
Taiwan/Chinese
Hi, everyone,

I have checked the use of "What do you think ~",
but I am still not very sure if the sentecnes below are both correct.
I need your hlep.

1 What do I think it means to be a good friend?
2. What do I think “a good friend” means?

Thank you very much in advance.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Both are correct English but they have different meanings.

    1. What do I think it means to be a good friend?
    This asks for advice on how to be good to one's friends.
    2. What do I think “a good friend” means? This asks for a dictionary definition of this 3-word phrase.
     

    JJJenifer

    Senior Member
    Taiwan/Chinese
    Thank you, Keith Bradford.
    But if I take away the double quotation marks, will they be equivalent to each other?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    No, it doesn't change a great deal; if anything it makes it less clear. The first one includes the words "to be", so it's talking about an activity. The second is talking about a person.
     

    JJJenifer

    Senior Member
    Taiwan/Chinese
    Thank you, Keith Bradford.

    But can I regard "it=to be a good friend" ?

    Thank you for your patience.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In a way. It's hard to say what "it" means -- it's probably what grammarians call a dummy subject or a placeholder; the simplified sentence structure is "What do I think to be a good friend means?
     

    JJJenifer

    Senior Member
    Taiwan/Chinese
    Thank you, Keith Bradford,

    Let me list the sentences we've refered to as below:

    A What do I think it means to be a good friend?
    B What do I think to be a good friend means ?
    C What do I think “a good friend” means?

    So, can I made the conclusion something like
    A and B are quite similar, and more about "some actions",
    while C is only about the literal meaning ?

    Thank you for your patience.
     

    JJJenifer

    Senior Member
    Taiwan/Chinese
    Thank you, RedwoodGrove,
    A and B are similar or the same, but B is not idiomatic.
    B is for explaning the concepts but not idiomatic.
    I think I probably understand it.
     
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