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We started interviewing a Yeti with a microphone.

How do we ensure that we mean the picture on the right and not on the left?

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And how would we describe this one?

enter image description here

Edit, from the comments:

  • unlikely Yeti would hold the mic, so it is clear who is holding the mic. Replace Yeti with a person, say "Tom".
  • we could write extra before/after sentences to clarify, but would want to keep it short as one sentence.
  • it is important to clarify who is holding the mic.
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  • @Spencer How would you describe each picture without ambiguity?
    – zx8754
    Mar 23, 2017 at 9:49
  • Add a whole new sentence clarifying who has the microphone. Do you really require something different?
    – Spencer
    Mar 23, 2017 at 9:50
  • @Spencer we could, but how about in one sentence?
    – zx8754
    Mar 23, 2017 at 9:51
  • 2
    (L) We started interviewing a Yeti which had a microphone. //// [R] With the help of (/Using) a microphone, we started interviewing a Yeti. //// [B] With the help of (/Using) a microphone, we started interviewing a Yeti. Which also had a microphone. Mar 23, 2017 at 9:52
  • 2
    @TeacherKSHuang of course, replace Yeti with a person, say "Tom".
    – zx8754
    Mar 23, 2017 at 9:54

1 Answer 1

4

The reader should be able to know from context, even if you don't add additional sentences.

But anyway, you could add a comma after the "Yeti":
"We started interviewing a Yeti with a microphone." = ambiguous
"We started interviewing a Yeti, with a microphone." = excludes the picture on the left
(You could also rearrange it: "We, with a microphone, started interviewing a Yeti.")

Or, you could change the "a" to "our" (which clarifies possession of the microphone):
"We started interviewing a Yeti with a microphone." = ambiguous
"We started interviewing a Yeti with our microphone." = still ambiguous, but more likely the picture on the right

If you really need to be clear on who's holding the microphone, maybe try something like:
"We handed the microphone to the Yeti and started interviewing him." = the picture on the left
"We held the microphone up to a Yeti and started interviewing him." = the picture on the right

If you wanted to convey the sense of the third picture, maybe:
"We started interviewing a Yeti, each party using separate microphones."

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  • Last case: "We took out our microphone to interview the Yeti and darn, if he didn't have his own microphone." I use "he" in a non-gender sense since, really, who can tell with a Yeti?
    – fixer1234
    Mar 25, 2017 at 2:36

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