This morning I’ve been chatting with a friend in Shanghai who asked me how to say various things in English, and about the meaning of various English words and phrases. In each case I had to ask about the context to be sure that I chose the appropriate meaning or translation.
Some words have a number of possible meanings. In some cases you can only work out which meaning is intended from the context. In some cases though, the context might be ambiguous, either deliberately, perhaps for comic effect, or unintentionally.
When reading text or listening to speech in a foreign language, you can often guess the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context. Or you can at least work out whether they are nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. It’s very useful to develop this skill and not to rely on dictionaries all the time.