The real meaning of ‘tentative’

Today, the My English Matters Team (me, Madam Azimah & Aisya) will be making our way for our quarterly meeting in KL.

It will be the first time I meet Madam Azimah in real life this year. She lives in Terengganu and Aisya and I are here in Klang Valley. We’ve been meeting virtually all this time, so I don’t feel like it’s been long!

Anyway, yesterday we were discussing the agenda for our meeting and one thing that came up was the word “tentative”.

We notice that a lot of Malaysians use the word “tentative” as a noun to mean “programme”, “agenda” or “itinerary” of an event. But that’s not the correct meaning.

“Tentative” means “not certain or fixed”. It’s actually an adjective.

Some synonyms (other words that have the same meaning) are “unconfirmed”, “indefinite”, “uncertain”.

So you can say “tentative programme”, which would mean “unconfirmed programme”.

It implies that the programme is subject to change.

Here’s another example of how you can use the word.

“This is the agenda for today’s meeting. It is tentative.”

It’s the same as saying: “This is the agenda for today’s meeting. It is not fixed.”

So I hope you’re clear on how to use this word in English. Perhaps you already knew this, and that’s great! But if you didn’t, I hope you learnt something today.

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