Asking questions with “mean” can be confusing. Let’s dive into the explanations.
Question form with ‘mean’
This is how you construct a question with the verb mean:
– What does ‘auxiliary’ mean?
Don’t use: What means ‘auxiliary’?
Preposition ‘by’ in questions with ‘mean’
If you form a sentence like “What do you mean by ‘auxiliary’?” you are asking about the sense of the word (“Could you please explain the meaning of ‘auxiliary’ in this particular context? Does it refer to ‘grammar’ or ‘production’?”).
“What do you mean…?”
One more thing. If you form your question with “What do you mean (by)…” you might be expressing protest or annoyance. For example:
What do you mean you aren’t using private cloud computing? (Forbes)
What do you mean by waking me up at this time of night? (Swan)
Construction of will have and past participle is rather interesting. It is used to “express certainty or confidence about the past” (Swan 622).
Examples of will have and past participle
A student is given this sentence to rephrase by using WILL (taken from Spotlight on CAE):
Paul said he would call April to tell her he’s not going to the party, and I’m sure he has.
Rephrased using WILL:
Paul will have phoned April to tell her he’s not going to the party, because he said he would.
The meaning: the speaker is fairly confident that April was told he would not come to the party.
Let’s see some other examples and rephrase them quickly:
Dear Sir, You will recently have received a form… (We are sure you got that form.)
I wonder why we haven’t heard from him – do you think he won’t have got our letter yet? (I am fairly confident he did not get the letter.)
We can’t go and see them now – they’ll have gone to bed. (I’m sure they fell asleep.) [All three examples are taken from Swan.]
That means workers will have received a total 9pc pay rise in the past three years. (We are quite certain that the rise was 9pc per worker.) [Irish Independent.]
If, like me, you are a BHP Billiton shareholder, you will have received a handsome 192-page shareholder circular last month …. (If you are also a shareholder, you got the same circular last month.) [Forbes]