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I just saw a quote from someone here in this site and I’m searching for the meaning of a word in the sentence. The sentence is: I know the rule of thumb that in interrogative sentences we always have to answer in the same tense that we were asked.

Well I cant understand what is “the rule of thumb” here in this quote. What is ”thumb” in this context? Im not a native speaker, I’m just trying to understand a little bit more of some words that you use in the middle of some sentences. Sometimes I can understand the meaning, but I cant understand why the word is on it you know? Thank you.

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The expression 'rule of thumb'

"refers to a principle [. . .] that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It refers to an easily learned and easily applied procedure or standard, based on practical experience rather than theory." - Wikipedia

According to Etymonline it is derived from the length of the last section of the thumb, which can be used as an approximate measure of an inch.

So your sentence means 'I know the simple and not very exact rule that in interrogative sentences we always have to answer in the same tense that we were asked,'

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Rule of thumb is a phrase that means "a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation." See Wikipedia for a full discussion.

It is said to be derived from a law that allowed wife beating so long as the stick was no thicker than your thumb, but this never existed in practice. There is a further discussion of this subject here

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