1)Police officers found the footage of the building ten hours ago.

2)Did you see the view of our city a hundred years ago?

Police officers found the footage which showed what happened in the building ten hours ago. In this case what does”ten hours ago ” modifie in this sentence footage or the building ? I thought it modifies “the footage”. But I couldn’t be sure. Or does it mean officiers found it ten hours ago? But what try to say it is the first meaning . And I asked the same question in the second question Does “ a hundred years ago” modifie “view” or “city”?

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    This is a typical attachment ambiguity. Ten hours ago could be attached to either footage or found, and nothing in the sentence distinguishes them. This means context must be called upon. This is one of the most common types of ambiguity, and it's unavoidable in most cases because adverbial phrases at the end of the sentence can modify any constituent that precedes and contains them, which means most anything in the sentence. Feb 7, 2020 at 0:49

1 Answer 1


Usually, the usage of "< some amount of time > ago" is as an adverbial phrase, used to modify a verb phrase.

In the first sentence, "ten hours ago" refers to how long ago the police found the footage.

The second sentence is slightly trickier, because a strict grammatical interpretation of the sentence is that it asks the listener whether, a hundred years ago, they saw the view of our city. However, since that question doesn't apply to most people, it most likely wouldn't be interpreted as such.

In this case, "A hundred years ago" would refer to "our city." The idea of a present-day view of something from 100 years ago is slightly unusual from a semantics standpoint, but most people would probably assume you meant a photograph of said view.

If you wish to refer to the view 100 years ago, you might ask "Did you see the view of our city from a hundred years ago?" In that case, "from a hundred years ago" is a prepositional phrase that modifies "the view."

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