Some recover by saying, "It means nothing!"
To that, I reply, "Does it make sense that the most frequently used word in the English language should be nothing more than a meaningless grunt?" Ouch!
Another participant will volunteer, "It's a function word."
Most certainly, all parts of sentences have a function. But that doesn't tell me what it means.
High frequency words are the most important of the words found on various sight words lists. Because they are used so frequently, their meaning is assumed to be understood.
How many times have you asked for the meaning of a word only to have the same word used in or as the definition?
Wouldn't it be more productive to teach the meaning of high frequency words? Kindergarten children are open to it.
Wouldn't it make children's listening and speaking language more meaningful?
When your child is very young and sees something for the very first time, he asks what it is.
You tell him
So, if your child sees an avocado for the first time and tugs at your shirt to find out what it is, you tell him. He accepts.
If you go on to tell him that it is a tasty fruit...
that it grows on trees...
that it has dark green skin...
that the skin is not smooth, more pebblish...
that it has a very large seed...
that it is nutritious...
that it has a nutty flavor...
- that it is usually eaten raw...
that it is sometimes called an alligator pear...
and the ways in which we use it in food preparation
You expand his knowledge base.
We can, in this same way, teach what each high frequency word means, as well as to read it at sight.
It may mean some serious dictionary work for you. However, consider the benefit to you and your child.
Wouldn't it result in a better level of communication and understanding?
Finally, in a muted voice, filled with uncertainty, someone will say, " The means one, doesn't it?"
"How can that be," you say? Don't we say, "The girls are playing tag?"
Indeed, we do. What we are really saying...
or, what we really mean by that statement is...
one group of girls is playing tag,
where group is implied.
For grammarians, girls in the sentence is a collective noun. It is similar to the word committee... one group of people called a committee.
Current usage of many collective nouns doesn't abide by the rules of grammar. For instance, you will hear the following statement, very frequently. The committee are making their decision. To date, our grammar hasn't changed accordingly. Perhaps it will in the next 50 years.
It all boils down to meaning. So it is with high frequency words. Meaning makes the difference.