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“Kinda” means “kind of.”
I have to warn you though, the expression “a kind of” is different from “kinda.”
First, A Kind Of
Well, “a kind of” is a phrase with three words inside it – an Article, a Noun and a Preposition. It means “type” or “something like.”
1. An owl is a kind of bird. (=type)
2. A DSLR is a kind of camera. (=type)
3. We need a kind of plan. (= something like a plan)
The first two examples are the same. They’re talking about the Subject (An owl and a DSLR) belonging to a bigger group (bird and camera). So, the meaning is “type.”
On the other hand, the third and last example is a little different because it means “something like.” In the third example, the speaker isn’t sure or cannot say exactly what, so the speaker means “something like this.”
More examples for the third:
1. A: What is it?
B: I’m not sure. It’s a kind of grasshopper. (=I’m not sure exactly what, but it’s similar to a grasshopper)
2. We need a kind of protection. (=I’m not sure exactly what, maybe a helmet, kneepads or elbow-pads)
3. I guess this is a kind of wall. (=I’m not sure exactly what, but it looks like a wall)
If you want, you can also change “a” to “some” to make the meaning stronger. Like this:
1. A: What is it?
B: I’m not sure. It’s SOME kind of grasshopper.
2. We need SOME kind of protection.
3. I guess this is SOME kind of wall.
Warning: Whether you use “a” or “some,” don’t forget to put it before the Noun. Because this word makes the expression different and separate from “kinda.”
As you might've guessed, if you mix “a kind of “ and “kinda,” you will be wrong.
“Kinda” is mainly different from “a kind of” because it’s considered as only one word. It means “kind of” but the words are fused together to make only one Vocabulary word: “kinda.”
Also, it is usually used as an Adverb. This means it is used to describe Adjectives.
1. It’s kinda big. (=a little big)
2. You’re kinda pale. (=a little white)
3. He’s kinda handsome. (=somewhat handsome)
The first two examples are the same. “Kinda” belongs to Adverbs such as “very,” “really,” “completely” etc. So, it is used to tell the degree or level of the Adjective.
“Kinda” means “a little. Not a lot or not very.”
So, if you say: “Kinda big,” this means “big” but not “very big.” Just “a little big.”
Or, if your friend is seasick and you are riding a ship, you can say: “You’re kinda pale (white).”
This means her face isn’t really white, but it is “a bit white.”
This is the same as “kinda expensive,” “kinda far,” “kinda difficult” etc.
As you can see, “kinda” as an expression is common and very useful.
! Just remember that “kinda” is a slang and informal/ casual expression. And because it is such, it’s much better to learn it by feeling.
"Kinda" has many meanings and situations, and they are very similar and confusing. But if you learn it by feeling, you might be able to practice it and eventually understand it.
Our third and last example:
He’s kinda handsome.
This is a little different because this means “somehow.” It means that the speaker isn’t sure why she thinks so. “Kinda” also means “for some reason.”
1. I kinda like it. (=I don’t know why but I like it.)
2. She’s kinda cute. (=I don’t know the exact reason but I think she’s cute)
3. That’s kinda weird/ strange. (=I don’t know why exactly but I think it’s strange.)
This is why the expression “kinda” is also widely used by native speakers to make their expressions softer; less strong.
For example, if they see a very fat person, they can say: “He’s kinda big” rather than “He’s big.”
As you can feel, if you add “kinda” to your sentence, the meaning will be less direct and less strong. And sometimes, less rude.
Let’s have another example:
A: So, do you wanna go drinking with us tonight?
B: Sorry, I’m kinda tired.
A: Did you like the gift?
B: It’s kinda heavy.
You can even use “kinda” alone. Like this:
A: Are you Ok?
A: Did you understand the lecture?
Hope you learned something!