So I mean there are too many words which is multiple meaning in English. And these sentences are able to vary by sentence. For example:

The house by the tree.

"by" means "next to" or "near"

This book was written by a popular author.

"by" means "product of".

What does these words mean when we use them by alone? When does "by, as, about, so" mean different? What is the basic meanings of these words?

  • 1
    The word "by" would never be used alone - it requires context to have meaning. Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 22:19
  • Thanks. What about rest of?
    – user123960
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 0:51
  • I don't think it is possible to say what they mean "alone". They have several possible meanings, and they only have a specific meaning in a specific context.
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 11:23
  • @stangdon what is the specific contexts?
    – user123960
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 12:01
  • 1
    @user123960 The only rule is "look at it in context".
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 19:13

2 Answers 2


In many languages there are many words whose meaning depends on the context in which they occur.

These words do not have a single "basic meaning". A good dictionary will tell you when there are several meanings, and illustrate each with a sentence or two. Your examples demonstrate that for "by" in English. Sometimes the several meanings are related, sometimes not.

That is part of what makes learning a new language difficult.

  • Thanks. As far as I understand by, as, so, about doesn't have meaning by alone. Right?
    – user123960
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 1:13
  • 1
    Look up these words in a dictionary, and you will see lists of the various ways in which they can be used. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 9:01

Some English words may have many different meanings, depending on context. For example:

  • She is running the race.
  • The car is running out of gas.
  • His nose is running.
  • She is running for office.
  • The producer is running the show.

Another example:

  • The gas is unionized. [No atoms have gained or lost electrons.]
  • The company is unionized. [Employees have joined together to form a union.]

That is why English dictionaries give a list of definitions. No, English is not an easy language to learn. Perhaps Esperanto or other synthetic language would be easier to learn, but it is not very widely used.

  • Thanks. What if I use by, as, about, so by alone? Does it have mean?
    – user123960
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 1:00
  • Comparing un-ionized and union-ized is clever, but doesn't really contribute to this otherwise correct answer. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 2:11

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