Minnie invited Mickey next door.

I saw this sentence from a children's book. It's a simple one. But I'm confused by the meaning. In my opinion, it can be understood as:

  1. Minnie invited Mickey, who lives next door, to her house.

  2. Minnie invited Mickey to her home, which is the next door.

So, what would be the correct way to understand the sentence?


I understand "next door" to be relative to Mickey. Minnie invites Mickey to go the house that is next door to his.

From wider knowledge I would guess that Minnie lives next door to Mickey and she is inviting him to her house. That is not stated but I understand it from what I already know about Minnie being Mickey's girlfriend.

I don't see any real difference between your two possibilities. Both are correct and equivalent.

  • The question is wether "next door" refers to Mickey's house or Minnie's house?
    – dan
    Oct 7 '18 at 5:27
  • @Dan "Minnie invites Mickey to go the house that is next door to his." that means next door obviously does NOT refer to Mickey's house. "I would guess that Minnie lives next door" that would mean they believe next door means minnies house, but they don't have enough knowledge to be sure. How does this not answer that question? Oct 7 '18 at 7:49
  • @Aethenosity, Can the sentence mean "Minnie invited Mickey who lives next door."? Minnie might not invite Mickey to her house, and instead she might invite him to a party at somewhere else? Basically, Minnie just offer an invitation to Mickey, who lives next door. Is that also a reasonable interpretation?
    – dan
    Oct 7 '18 at 10:00
  • 1
    @dan "can the sentence mean" I would say no. "Might mean a party at somewhere else" yes that is a possibility. I'd need more context to know. I would interpret it as inviting Mickey to somewhere next door to where he currently is, but it doesn't say he is currently home, so I couldn't say whether he lives next door or not. Oct 7 '18 at 10:07

The sentence could be considered as ambiguous, but:

The three-word sentence "X invited Y." doesn't convey much meaning, unless you already know something about the invitation.

Giving more information about Y (for example "X invited Y who lives in New York.") doesn't change that situation - without more context about the invitation, we still don't know what is going on here.

So in the OP's sentence, it is more reasonable to interpret the words "next door" as telling us more about the invitation, rather than telling us more about Mickey.

There is nothing at all in the sentence that suggests "invited" means "invited to Minnie's house", but presumably the reader already knows that Mickey and Minnie live next door to each other, and it wouldn't make much sense for Minnie to invite Mickey either to "the other house that is next door to Minnie's house" (on the opposite side to where Mickey lives) or to "the other house that is next door to Mickey's house" (on the opposite side to where Minnie lives).

  • is it also correct and clearer to say "Minnie invited Mickey to the next door."?
    – dan
    Oct 8 '18 at 4:23

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