POINTPoint is one of the top 500 most frequent words in English. As you read, think about how the different meanings of the word are related.
As a verb
As a noun
As a noun, the word point has several meanings.
1 An argument or an idea
Keep in mind that when we say ‘argument’, we don’t mean a fight! Here, we use the other definition of argument – a reason given in support of an idea.
We often use the phrase “good point” to praise someone’s idea.
We also match the word POINT with the verb MAKE, as you see here.
A similar meaning is “meaning”.
For example, “What point are you trying to make?”
“Do our lives have a point?”
“Is there a point to this presentation?”
Notice that we generally use it in a negative way.
2 A location on a map
The point of the onboarding program is to prepare new employees for work here.
The point of having speed limits is to reduce road accidents.
4 A moment in time
Notice how this compares to the previous definition – a point can be a place in time or in space!
At that point, they knew the war was lost.
At a certain point in time, George changed his mind.
United scored a fifth goal. By that point, their opponents had given up.
5 A dot
When we write a dot in a number, we read it aloud as ‘point’.
Occasionally, we also use it to describe a dot that we can see.
Example: The stars were beautiful points of light in the sky.
6 The sharp end of a sword, knife or other instrument.
I accidentally stabbed myself with the point of my knife.
Be careful! That stick has a sharp point.
From the meaning “purpose”, we get the adjective pointless. Pointless means useless, meaningless or having no importance. Note that there is no such word as 'pointful' in modern English even though the word purposeful exists.
Example 2: George’s campaign for president is pointless; he’ll never win!
From the meaning “sharp end of a knife or sword”, we get the adjective pointy. Pointy means sharp at one end… like Spock’s ears in Star Trek.
Example two: He was carrying a pointy stick.
The word pointy is considered informal and is considered to be a “silly” word!
Phrasal verbs with POINT
There is one common phrasal verb with the word POINT, which is POINT OUT.
Point out means to bring something to a person’s attention.
It can be an idea:
She pointed out that some female staff were underpaid compared to the men.
Or it can be a physical thing:
From the top of the mountain, Shaun pointed out the villages down below.
Idioms and expressions with point
We have already seen the expressions ‘good point’ and ‘make a point’.
Other expressions with the word POINT are:
1 Point of view
A point of view (or viewpoint) is a way of looking at something.
From the teacher’s point of view, the rule about no phones in the classroom was a blessing, since it meant the students would pay more attention.
From the students’ point of view, however, it was simply an annoying rule that made no sense.
2 I get the point/I don’t get the point
These expressions refer to the usage of POINT where it means ‘purpose’. We use these expressions to indicate whether we understand the purpose of something or not.
I get the point of raising the prices, but don’t you think it will scare away customers.
The town has banned cars from Main Street, but I don’t get the point. How is that going to help the small businesses there?
Sometimes we use the word SEE instead of GET: I see the point/I don’t see the point.