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Could

a) I had four friends in high school and I don't know if they are alive or not.

be used instead of

b) I had four friends in high school who might not be alive as far as I know.

?

Does (a) necessarily imply that I had only four friends in high school? If that is the case then it cannot be used instead of (b). In (b) I might have had more than four friends in high school.

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  • Are you interested in the difference between the two structures, or do you just want to know if they have the same meaning?
    – gotube
    May 23 at 5:04
  • Well, sentence b doesn't make any sense since "as far as I know" means you know something and "might" means you don't know at all. Saying "as far as I know" means you at some point acquired knowledge and that you haven't come into new knowledge since that point that would change that previously acquired knowledge but intimates the possibility that that previously acquired knowledge may be outdated. May 23 at 8:29
  • If last you knew, they were alive, then you'd say, "I had four friends in high school, who are alive as far as I know." If last you knew, they'd all died, you'd just say, "I had four friends in high school, who are all dead." You wouldn't say "as far as I know" because knowledge of someone being dead isn't knowledge that is subject to change, what with people once dead staying dead. May 23 at 8:34
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Yes, a) implies you had only four friends (or perhaps that these four were particularly close friends, as opposed to acquaintances).

You might be more specific, e.g. "Over time, I've lost track of four friends from high school, and wonder if, after so many years, they're still alive."

BTW, without explanation of why they might not be alive, such as shared danger during war, or a great span of time, it seems somewhat cryptic.

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The second sentence, as written, has an odd meaning: "There are exactly four friends I had in high school who might not be alive right now, but I know the rest are all alive."

Without any context I can't say more with confidence, but I'm guessing there should be a comma in it:

"I had four friends in high school, who might not be alive as far as I know."

This sentence means the same as the first, "I had four (close) friends in high school, and I don't know if any of them are still alive.

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  • 2
    It could also mean there are 4 that I don't know about; for the rest I know whether they are alive or dead.
    – Peter
    May 23 at 5:23
  • 1
    Also true, and neither way is likely to be the intended meaning of the speaker.
    – gotube
    May 23 at 5:30

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