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Your English: Word grammar: bound

Type: Article

Tim Bowen is bound to prove that nothing is out of bounds with this look at word grammar.

The word bound is most commonly used as an adjective, but can also function as a verb, a noun and a suffix.

Apart from its most widely used adjectival meaning of ‘almost certain to happen’, bound can also mean ‘having an obligation to do something because of a law, promise etc’, as in ‘If her patient threatens to kill someone, she is bound by law to inform the police’.

As a verb, its principal meaning is to run or jump taking large steps but it can also be used in the passive to indicate what lies around a particular area, as in ‘The property is bounded on three sides by dense forest’.

The noun form of bound is normally only used in the plural with the meaning of limits that affect and control what can happen and what people are able to do, as in ‘The border areas are still out of bounds to tourists’.

The suffix –bound can be added to some nouns to form adjectives. These fall into three categories. The first is used to describe where someone or something is going, as in ‘A London-bound train’. The second category is used to mean that someone is unable to leave a place, particularly a house or a desk, as in ‘His mother is sick and more or less house-bound’ and ‘Some doctors believe that the condition is exacerbated by a sedentary or desk-bound lifestyle’.

Finally, bound can follow fog, ice and snow to indicate that bad weather is preventing travel, as in ‘The airport was fog-bound and no flights were able to land or take off for several hours’.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • We're happy to hear you find it useful Lalage. How would you present this information to your students?

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  • Very useful word use. Since it is difficult for students to understand, this explanation is necessary and very clear to anyone.

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