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Your English: Word grammar: clear

Type: Article

There’s no need to steer clear of this helpful word as Tim Bowen makes everything clear.

The word clear is mainly used as an adjective but it can also function as a verb, an adverb, and, more rarely, as a noun. Apart from its usual adjectival meanings of ‘obvious’, ‘transparent’, ‘easy to see’ and ‘not confused’, clear can also mean ‘not affected by guilty feelings’, as in ‘My conscience is clear, I’m happy to say’, and ‘not blocked or obstructed’, as in  ‘From the window there was a clear view of the mountains’.

Clear also has numerous meanings as a verb, including ‘to give or obtain permission for something to happen’, as in ‘I’ll have to clear it with head office before I can give you a final decision’.

As a noun, clear is restricted to the expression in the clear, which has two distinct meanings. It can mean ‘no longer believed to be guilty of something bad or illegal’, as in ‘They’ve arrested someone else for the robbery, so Ken’s in the clear’. It can also mean ‘no longer in a difficult or dangerous situation’, as in ‘She’s had the test results back from the hospital and it seems she’s in the clear’.  

As an adverb, clear is used to mean ‘completely away from something or out of the way’, as in ‘He grabbed her hands and tried to pull her clear’ or ‘Stand clear of the closing doors’. If you keep clear or steer clear of someone or something, you avoid them because they are unpleasant or dangerous, as in ‘I’m sure you’ll have a very pleasant evening with him, as long as you steer clear of the subject of money’.

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