1

a. I almost fell twice yesterday.

Does that mean

  1. Twice, I almost fell yesterday.

or

  1. I only fell once yesterday but I had a near miss as well.

?

3
  • 2
    It's ambiguous. – Jack O'Flaherty Dec 24 '20 at 0:17
  • 1
    Not ambiguous at all, only 1 applies. – DrMoishe Pippik Dec 24 '20 at 1:24
  • Thank you both. Things have not really been clarified, have they? – azz Dec 24 '20 at 1:31
1

The ambiguity here is very subtle. In this case, only meaning 1 can apply, because "falling" is bad so "almost falling" by itself is a near miss that happened two times. If you change the verb to something that's okay to do once, but bad to do twice, then you could get a meaning similar to 2. For example, "I almost voted twice yesterday" would mean "I voted once, but then I almost voted again".

1

To my ear the sentence is slightly ambiguous, though most people in most situations would assume the first meaning rather than the second in the absence of additional information. However, if your audience has some prior reason to think that you did indeed fall at least once yesterday (e.g., you have been discussing your injuries), then the second meaning might be inferred.

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