Today, I'm going to do a little test on you. I'm going to give examples first and let you guess out the meaning of a common English idiom.
I got the inspiration the other day from answering a question (What does "as much" mean in a sentence like "And he said as much). Whenever I get a question (that I would like to answer), I scramble for the dictionary (ha). And I often fail to get a satisfactory answer (which is to say not that I'm a dunce but that authorities are not always as helpful as you think they should be). Then I give as good an explanation as I can. At last, I offer concrete examples to help readers cement their impression.
This last practice is consistent with my age-old belief that language-learning is more a matter of practical use than a labyrinth of grammatical rules to puzzle over, more of a reality to experience than a mental problem to solve. Often, as I have often said in these pages, one can work out the meaning of a word, set phrase or idiom just by meeting them a few times. Yes, much in the same way we remember new acquaintances. The first (few) times we face them, we don't recognize them. We sometimes try to remember them by murmuring their names (because they are ranking officials in certain industries who might be useful to us in future. You know, when fall in need of authorities somehow – you never know, you know). But however we may try, we fail.
We fail to remember their names because we have lately run into people of even higher rankings. That's why we fail to remember them – they're simply not big enough names to merit our attention.
I'm joking, of course. The real reason we fail to remember them, the reason I want to raise here at any rate, is simply because that we do not meet them often enough.
Take classmates for example. There are 62 other fellow students in the room and you can't remember all their names and faces on the first introduction (if you can, you'd better not say so because your teacher may ask you to leave the room, saying this class is not for you, if they find out that you're genius). But you meet them every day and soon enough you are able to match their faces with their names. All of them, even those you hate to remember. And you realize it's not such a great effort after all.
So therefore, today, I'm going to offer a little test on you, to check my little theory (that English idioms become second nature to us if we meet them a lot and speak them a little) and, more importantly, what is called your "feel" for the English language.
Now, what does "as much" mean in a sentence like "and he said as much"?
Instead of explanations first, this time I'm giving examples first.
Example 1: This man's occupation is gone. He is lost if he returns to London. If I read his character right he will devote his whole energies to revenging himself upon me. He said as much in our short interview, and I fancy that he meant it.
– Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle.
Example 2: Loretta was different from other women. There was no masquerade about her. She was real. He said as much to Mrs. Hemingway, and more, who agreed with him.
– A Wicked Woman, Jack London.
Example 3: A top Microsoft Corp executive said Yahoo Inc's advertising search partnership with Google Inc would leave only one major player in the Internet search business, and said he had been told as much by Yahoo's own chief executive last month.
– Microsoft cites Yang comments on Google-Yahoo deal, Reuters, July 15, 2008.
Alright, no more examples and, now that you've worked out its meaning on your own, no explanations.
Well done. Have a good weekend.