What's it mean?

clapec

Senior Member
Italian
In a book that I'm reading, a character asks another 'What's it mean?', referring to a word he has just said. The question seems rather strange to me: is it grammatically correct? I would have expected to find a different construction instead, for example 'What does it mean?'.
 
  • maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    The use of "what's" is colloquial for many things. In this instance it is an abridgement of 'what does'.
     

    Tabac

    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    In a book that I'm reading, a character asks another 'What's it mean?', referring to a word he has just said. The question seems rather strange to me: is it grammatically correct? I would have expected to find a different construction instead, for example 'What does it mean?'.
    What[doe]s it --- very close rendition of how it is often spoken. It should not be used in formal writing, unless quoting dialogue.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    What's it look like? How's it work? How's that sound?

    's for is is more common and accepted than for does.
    I don't know exactly how standard What's the point? is considered but it's certainly widespread.

    Conversely, contracting does is much more objected to.
    It seems to be
    - pretty much used, after what,
    - and restricted to the more common idioms, after how.

    For instance, if you google "how's it make"
    you'll see that 42 out of 47 hits are for
    How's it make [Noun] feel?
    with a huge majority for
    How's it make you feel?


    People of the Woodstock generation like me will certainly remember Country Joe McDonald shouting "What's that spell?" ;)
     

    Nucleara

    Senior Member
    Thai - Central dialect
    Hey I've just come across somethin like this too.
    In this conversation, in a game:

    "There's a letter to us, children."
    "From who ?"
    "Oh it's dad !"
    "Woww, woww. what's it say ?"

    Is "what's it say?" usually used by native speakers ?

    Thanks !
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    As Tabac said, "what's it mean" is what "what does it mean" sounds like when spoken quickly. If you say "what's it mean" slowly, it would be substandard English or a dialect of English. I don't think one should ever write "what's it xxxx" instead of "what does it xxxx".
     
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