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He didn't receive it to be seen as a good man.

I'm wondering if this sentence can be interpreted in 2 ways, as in

He didn't receive it without any intention of being seen as a good man.

He didn't receive it because he wanted to be seen as a good man.

I don't know if these make sense but I got confused here and need help.

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  • None of those sentences (the first one and the two suggested alternatives) make any sense. Receive what? Jul 6 at 15:10
  • @michael harvey added it to the sentences
    – pheno8
    Jul 6 at 15:18
  • I suspect a word is missing. Furthermore, once that word is supplied, additional context may be needed to give good answer. I also suspect, once that missing word and context are supplied, that your first interpretation is wrong (though it would be right using “with” rather than “without”) and your second is correct. But this is just guess work until additional information is supplied. Jul 6 at 15:19
  • Do you mean 'He didn't take anything?' 'He didn't accept anything?' Jul 6 at 15:19
  • 2
    He didn't receive it to be seen as a good man is INHERENTLY AMBIGUOUS. It could EITHER imply he really didn't actually receive it (because him not receiving it would make people think he was a good man), OR that he did receive it - but he had some other motivation (being seen as a good man wasn't the motivating factor). Jul 6 at 15:50
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"He didn't [do X] to be seen as a good man" is generally used in the sense and understood to mean "he did do X for a different reason than to be seen as a good man".

To say he wanted to be seen as a good man and therefore didn't do X, more common phrasings may be:

"Because/as/since he wanted to be seen as a good man, he didn't do X."

"He didn't do X as/since he wanted to be seen as a good man." (Note that here, "because" would be ambiguous.)

"To be seen as a good man, he refrained from doing X."

The sentence in your question, though, is quite odd because receiving things usually isn't a deliberate action. It's passive, something that happens to one from outside. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a context in which that sentence would make much sense.

"I didn't get this spam in my mail to be seen as a good person."

"I didn't get a birthday present from a friend to be seen as a good person."

...Well obviously not, I had no intention in those events at all, they were imposed on me by someone else. If I have any reason to say something like this, I must be very sarcastic.

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