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this sentence is a bit ambiguous for me.

In the last century there has been great progress in what doctors have been able to do with modern surgery and new medications.

There are two possible readings in my mind. I think the 2nd one is correct, But I'm not sure.

  1. "with modern surgery and new medications" refers to the whole sentence. "Modern surgery and new medications" are the cause of great progress in what doctors have been able to do now.
  2. "with modern surgery and new medications" refers to the "to do".

To put it another way, is it possible to change the word order in this manner? :

In the last century, with modern surgery and new medications, there has been great progress in what doctors have been able to do.

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In the last century, there has been great progress in what doctors have been able to do with modern surgery and new medications.

It means that Doctors have been able to do more in the last century because of modern surgery and new medications. Doctors don't create medicines, and while they might pioneer surgeries, they don't necessarily build equipment that they use to perform the operations.

I can see how you might read it as Doctors have been able to do more with modern medicines in the last century than in previous centuries, which doesn't make sense because you only have modern medicines in modern times.

Consider this similar statement:

In the last century, people have been able to travel further with the advent of commercial flights.

The people that travel on planes didn't create commercial flights - they just use them. The advent of commercial flights is the reason why people have been able to travel further in the last century.

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