How do children learn? Scientists do not really know.

This sentence is quoted from a certain English-learning book published in Japan.

Does the sentence, "Scientists do not really know.", mean that scientists don't know "almost nothing" about how children learn? If the sentence doesn't have a meaning like that, What is the correct meaning?

  • 1
    It's all a matter of what "really" modifies. In Scientists do not really know, we're being told that know isn't really / actually the most appropriate verb to describe the current state of scientists' understanding of the process - they've probably got ideas and theories about some of the factors involved in learning, but they don't actually know very much for certain. Note that in the alternative phrasing Scientists really do not know, the word "really" serves as an intensifier for negating "not" - emphasising the fact that that they don't know very much at all. May 12, 2021 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


I think it might mean that scientist don't know everything about the subject, rather than that they don't know anything about it. But it sounds like the beginning of a discussion of the subject, rather than an isolated statement, so reading what follows would probably explain what was meant.


It means that the scientists, do not know a lot about the subject. That can still mean that they know a little bit about the subject.

You must log in to answer this question.

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