I often hear something like 'what do you mean "gone"?' I've been wondering whether the omission of the preposition 'by' ('what do you mean [by] "gone"?') complies with the grammar rules.

  • John: Mario's gone. Philip: What do you mean "gone"? John: I mean he has left the premises and won't be back. [For example]. Context is everything. Resistance is futile.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 0:37

1 Answer 1


While it may not be strictly grammatical, it is idiomatic, and is generally preferred over the grammatical form, unless you wish to be formal or very emphatic.

  • 1
    And, of course, it doesn't mean "What does gone mean?", but "Why are you saying that - what has happened?" Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 9:29
  • It is grammatical because it is heard and would be written in quote marks.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 0:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .