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Situation:

  • there is an event 10 months in the future from today
  • I need an appointment with an office in the 6 months leading to that

If I say: "I can book the appointment no more than 3 months in advance", is it ambiguous?
For me is clear thet it means that the time between the booking and the appointment can't be more than 3 months, but my native speaker SO got confused and says that the sentence is unclear because it could also mean that the appointment can't be booked to be more than 3 months before the event.

If I would have wanted to express this second meaning I think I would say "The appointment can be only in the 3 months before the event"

Can someone please clarify this for me?

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    "Booking three months in advance" would normally be understood to mean three months before the event you are booking for. As the case you describe is more complicated (you want an appointment before the main event), I think you need to spell the situation out in more detail to avoid ambiguity. Aug 12 at 12:17
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Given the context of your conversation, I think the issue is, the event could be implied and therefore, that is how it was understood by the other person.

If you changed your sentence to the below, I think it would make it more clear that the booking of the appointment within 3 months is the limitation, and has nothing to do with the event itself. Adding only and changing the to an makes talking about booking an appointment in general.

I can only book an appointment no more than 3 months in advance.

Overall, I think what you said was fine and wasn't ambiguous. If we were talking and you said "I can book the appointment no more than 3 months in advance", I would have understood it as a limitation on how far out you can book an appointment in general.

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