I wanna learn logic of how meaning changed. Is it possible? Should I memorize or learn logically?

An example:
Have -> Own
Have to -> Obligations
How has transformed the meaning that sentence with "to"?

An example:
Would -> past of will
Would like -> Want

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, memorisation is probably the best method.

While you can probably create some sort of explanation in some cases, the derivations are probably so obscure as to be inobvious.

The meaning of "Have to" is understood by a native English speaker with no mental association with the possesive "have".

"Would like" may have some logical etymological link to "would" but it too would not be in any way in mind by a typical speaker.

So, memorising our strange constructs is probably your only sensible choice :-(.

A few semi random examples:

Have to - Must

Would like - Want, desire. Also 'Would like to have'


"... up" - Up usually indicates elevation in height, but adding as an adverb indicates an increase in rate or condition.

  • Do up - renovate, improve.

  • Make up - 1. Apply cosmetics = improve appearance 2. Create a false statement or story.

  • Eat up - Eat, with an emphasis on completion or speed.
    Eat up your food" = Eat your food (rapidly, completely).

  • Fed up = very annoyed,


" ... out" -> completely, maximally

  • Tired out = very tired, completely tired.
  • Worn out = completely worn or used up. No capability remaining


"get out of bed" - - leave a bed.

  • out = not IN bed,
    get = acquire a state of, so
    "acquire a state of not being in bed" :-).

"I got out of bed" is usual.
But one would not say "I got out of car"
but would say "I got out of [my | the] car".
"I got out of a car" would only be used in certain cases eg "Last week, as I got out of a car I heard a gunshot"

English can be weird :-) :-(

  • I get it, thanks. I'll memorize. But I wonder a thing. Do u know a list for that I mentioned? Or may also an etymological explanation.
    – user123960
    Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 13:02
  • @user123960 I'd be happy to TRY to comment on specific examples, but it is hard to think of them as they are such a natural part of speech that we do not see them. Anything you list I'd try to "explain" if it seemed possible. eg things like "get out of bed" - out = not IN bed, get = acquire a state of so "acquire a state of not being in bed" :-). There may be far better linguistic explanations but tyhere will be many examples. I have a friend who lived in Pune in India for decades. In his retirement he was still learning colloquial phrases in the local Mahrati dialect from a book :-). Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 17:02
  • Thank you so much. You helped me. I guess the best way is when I encountred that I mentioned, take a note. Thanks for everything. Also I congratulate your friend for perseverance.
    – user123960
    Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 19:27

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