1) He broke a bone three times recently.

2) Recently, on three occasions, he broke a bone.

Do '1' and '2' imply that the same bone was broken?

3) He broke a different bone three times recently.

4) Recently, on three occasions, he broke a different bone.

Do '3' and '4' work?

  • Do you want to say "Recently, someone has broken a different bone three times" or words to that effect? My sample sentence is purposefully not perfect. – Mari-Lou A Jan 9 '17 at 9:49
  • We usually say that someone "broke his/her arm, leg, ankle etc." Break a bone is too vague. Where? In his shoulder? In his wrist? In BrEng you're likely to say: "My ankle has been broken three times this year" (Let's pretend it is now September) or I've broken my arm three times in the last five months. An AmEng speaker might prefer the simple past tense: I broke my leg... – Mari-Lou A Jan 9 '17 at 9:53
  • There are lots of ways to break a bone. Sentences 1 and 2 are vague and ambiguous. – J.R. Jan 9 '17 at 10:03
  • May I ask: Do you want to specify the same bone or different bones? – Teacher KSHuang Jan 9 '17 at 12:04

No, 1 and 2 don't imply that it was the same bone each time. In fact, they rather suggest the opposite. As others have pointed out, in mentioning fractures, one usually is specific about the bone, or at least which part of the body the bone is in:

She has a hairline fracture in her elbow.

Since your first two examples avoid such specificity, the listener would tend to assume that the unfortunate person you're discussing has had three separate mishaps recently, each resulting in a different bone being broken.

Your third and fourth sentences are unidiomatic. "A different bone" makes sense only in a context where you say something like:

Last year I broke my tibia, but last week I broke a different bone.

It can't be used to mean "three distinct bones", as you want.

  • To say what the OP appears to be trying to say, one might say, "Recently, he broke three different bones in three separate accidents." – J.R. Jan 9 '17 at 10:04

All of your suggestions are ambiguous:

  1. Bones break in a variety of ways - "broke three times" can mean that a single bone broke in three places on a single occasion.

  2. Multiple bones can break on a single occasion.

  3. Bones can break, heal, and break again.

    • so in all of your suggestions, the reader can't be sure how many bones broke or how many events occurred.
  4. "Recently" doesn't specify whether a single event occurred at a specific time or multiple events occurred over a range of time. If the earlier part is ambiguous then we can't tell what "recently" means here.

Less ambiguous examples might be:

"I broke a bone in three places recently"

"I recently had an accident where I broke three bones"

"I broke three bones over the last several months"

  • all of these mean different things, but it's clear what's meant in each case.

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