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Does their in the following sentence refer only to Chandler and Monika, or is it one of those sentences with an unclear antecedent?

In order to celebrate their anniversary, Chandler and Monika are going to Apple Bees with Ross and Rachel.

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I'd apply my own logic of proximity. It's then clear that the pronoun refers to Chandler and Monika and it's their anniversary.

A little change in the order may help understand that:

In order to celebrate their anniversary, Chandler and Monika are going with Ross and Rachel to Apple Bees.

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But my college professor has a different opinion. She is a linguistics professor at De Anza College in Cupertino , California. Here is what she says:

Grammatically speaking, the antecedent of a pronoun is the closest noun phrase with in the phrase. In your sentence [Monica and Chandler] is closer to their than [Ross and Rachel], so it is M and C that is understood as the antecedent of their.

  • Here is what I found in The Oxford Library of English Usage: In order to/so as to show his boss what a careful worker he was , he took extra trouble over the figures. – GrammarBoy Jul 3 '18 at 21:02
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I think that it depends on the context. For example,if you had

The anniversary of Rachel and Ross is on Saturday...In order to celebrate their anniversary, Chandler and Monika are going to Apple Bees with Ross and Rachel.

it would be pretty clear that it refers to Ross and Rachel.However,without any context it is natural to assume that the sentence refers to Chandler and Monika by using their.

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