My name is Edward Ball. I had an accident and I woke up in 1977.

Is this sentence a bit ambiguous? Because of and we could understand that he woke up first and then had an accident. What comes first, the accident or the waking up?

To remove the ambiguity would it be better to use then instead of and, or perhaps use the past perfect had had. Or maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so, and the events are simultaneous.

  • From the context, Edward Ball is suggesting that his accident left him in a coma for a number of years. Not all prose is intended to be perfectly clear. Sometimes the author intends to create an air of mystery. – Ronald Sole Mar 10 '18 at 23:02
  • He knows the year when he had an accident? If yes, there wouldn't be any ambiguity provided the year was voiced it in the sentence, would there? – Victor B. Mar 11 '18 at 0:09

When "and" is used in this way, the phrase after the "and" usually refers to the state of things after the event described in the phrase before the "and."

In this particular example, the sentence is ambiguous as to when the accident occured, but it implies that when he woke up from the coma, it was (either literally or figuratively) 1977.

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If the two events happen simultaneously, you can use "and" in either order. If they happen in sequence, you can use "and" but you have to put them in the correct order.


I unlocked the door and went inside. (meaning I unlocked the door first, then I went inside through the door that I just unlocked)

I went inside and unlocked the door. (meaning I went inside first, then I unlocked some door that was inside)

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