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They told me not to investigate his financial activities as well as his brother's.

Could that mean that they told me to investigate neither his nor his brother's financial activities?

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    It's inherently ambiguous. If there was any risk that the wrong interpretation might be applied, you could avoid this using ...or his brother's / ...while investigating his brother's. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:07

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While the intended meaning is fairly clear

They told me to investigate neither his financial activities nor his brother's

it is definitely not phrased well. Your explanatory gloss does as good a job as any. In fact, I am having a hard time seeing how this could be stated in a single sentence that is not awkward-sounding. This is about the best I can work out:

They told me not to investigate either his financial activities or his brother's

It seems hard to me to make the negated verb with the compound object sound natural.

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  • It might be easier to write in the passive: "They told me that both his and his brother's financial activities should not be investigated."
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 14:56

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