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  1. My cat learned that alarm sound means I wake up.

I am confused about the usage of present simple after the verb "means".

  1. It means that I love you.

In the second example, it is not confusing because "I love you" is a fact but "I wake up" seems like it is and aily habit.

What is the meaning and why the present simple is used in the first example

  • It is present simple because it is a habitual action, as in I wake up at 7:15. – Colin Fine Sep 30 '19 at 10:57
  • But that is thing confusing me. Alarm sound can't mean the fact that I wake up. – lollel123 Sep 30 '19 at 10:59
  • Lollei: yes, it does mean that - to the cat. Meanings are things that people - and animals - put on events. If the cat is aware that the alarm is always followed by you getting up, the cat may well take the alarm to mean that you wake up. – Colin Fine Sep 30 '19 at 11:05
  • Well i am still confused because the cat would still know the fact that he wakes up at morning. It is obvious. – lollel123 Sep 30 '19 at 11:17
  • Presumably, on days when he has not set the alarm, there is no particular time at which the cat will expect him to wake. The cat may have its own opinions about when he should wake, but that's a different matter. – Colin Fine Sep 30 '19 at 16:43
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why the present simple is used in the first example

It is present simple because it is a habitual action, as in I wake up at 7:15.

Alarm sound can't mean the fact that I wake up. I think that would be "My cat learned that alarm sound means I will wake up right after it started sounding"

Yes, your interpretation that I will wake up right after it started sounding is correct. The original sentence is a simplified, condensed form of the longer sentence. You might argue that the original sentence is overly simplified and condensed to the point of not being logically valid.

But the meaning is still clear.

People will use simple sentences because they aren't native speakers, or because they are children, or because they are being lazy, or because they want to abbreviate the idea into a bite-sized form. There are many reasons. Even if logic hasn't been strictly followed, if the meaning is sufficiently conveyed then sometimes it's enough.

This example with the cat also favors such a format. Because it's trying to paint a picture that the cat has simple thoughts, but they are just advanced enough to understand that "the alarm" = "human wakes up".

Here are some suggestions for a more complete sentence:

My cat has learned that the sound of the alarm means I'm about to get up.
My cat has learned that the sound of the alarm means I'm about to wake up.

  • Can i say "My cat learned that alarm sound means I would wake up right after it"? – lollel123 Oct 23 '19 at 13:07
  • @lollel123 I don't think that's ideal. See the most recent edit for suggestions. – Sam Oct 23 '19 at 15:06

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