1

Christopher planned his vacation at the beach in December.

Without adding a context to specify the meaning of this sentence, it could be read as either Christopher was at the beach in December, and planned his vacation there or Christopher planned his vacation to go to the beach in December?

0

1 Answer 1

2

A time-phrase or place-phrase at the start of the sentence will be understood to modify "Christopher planned", when and where he did the planning:

At the beach in December, Christopher planned his vacation in the mountains.

and the place-phrase "in the mountains" will be understood to complement "vacation".

In December, Christopher planned his vacation at the beach.

3
  • Then, you mean my example is not ambiguous, and only the example means Christopher was at the beach in December, and planned his vacation there?
    – GKK
    Nov 23, 2017 at 13:57
  • 1
    There is greater ambiguity with your sentence in text than there would necessarily be in speech. A speaker could disambiguate without having to relocate the phrase to the beginning of the sentence. Christopher planned {normal brief syntactic pause} his vacation at the beach {exaggerated syntactic pause} in December. Detaching "in December" from "his vacation at the beach" in that manner would indicate that it was adverbial, modifying "planned".
    – TimR
    Nov 23, 2017 at 14:01
  • 1
    That exaggerated syntactic pause could be represented in text with a comma: Christopher planned his vacation at the beach, in December.
    – TimR
    Nov 23, 2017 at 14:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .