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Here is an example sentence from a textbook:

The man and the woman | dressed in black | then stood up.

The upright slashes denote chuncking the clause into intonation groups for speech. I am wondering whether the participial clause dressed in black applies only to the woman or both the man and the woman?

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  • Do you mean "The man and the woman, dressed in black, then stood up." vs. "The man, and the woman dressed in black, then stood up."?
    – user3169
    Jun 30 '17 at 4:32
  • @user3169 The pauses are indicated by pipes here. A pause such as that indicated by a comma is expected. I see no pipe between man and and. Jun 30 '17 at 5:05
  • @user3169 I mean the first version
    – Lynnyo
    Jun 30 '17 at 6:02
  • I added the second option since it would match "dressed in black applies only to the woman" that you mentioned, and so you can see the difference.
    – user3169
    Jun 30 '17 at 16:00
  • So first they dressed in black and then they stood up? Or were they already dressed in black.
    – James
    Jun 30 '17 at 19:25
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Usually this would be written "the man and the woman, dressed in black, then stood up". The pause in speech, which is written with a comma (or in your case, a bar), means that "the man and the woman" is a group in this context, so "dressed in black" applies to both. If there were no pause between "the woman" and "dressed in black", it would refer only to the woman.

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