Asking for and giving a Definition in English (ESL/EFL speaking lessons)

Asking for and giving a definition in English (ESL/EFL English speaking lessons)

What is a definition?

A definition (the verb is: define) is the explanation and meanings of words and phrases. Anything in the world has a definition. For example, linguistics is the scientific study of language. A large part of our daily life, we come across words and phrases that we don’t know. In this lesson, you will be introduced to some of the expressions in English you can use to ask for and give a definition.

Asking for definitions in English


You can use this structure: What is + noun/phrase?

or this structure: What does + noun/phrase refer to?

or this structure: What is the meaning of + noun/phrase?

  • What does + noun/phrase mean?
  • Can you define + noun/phrase?
  • Can you give a definition for + noun/phrase?
  • How can we define + noun/phrase?


Giving definitions in English


You can use this rule:  Noun/phrase + is defined as …

or this rule: Phrase + means ….

  • phrase + refers to ….
  • Noun/phrase + is ….
  • Noun or phrase by definition is ….

Examples of asking for and giving a definition in English 

  • A: What is the meaning of collocations?
  • B: Collocations refer to two words that are related and which have a specific meaning.
  • A: Can you define a grammar, please?
  • B: Grammar is defined as all the rules of language that help us make correct sentences.
  • A: Can you give me a definition of “language”?
  • B: Language by definition is anything we use to communicate with one another. It can be oral or written. 




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