We intend to consider the global standing of German universities and academic journals.

Is it clear in the above sentence that the adjective German is for both universities and academic journals?

  • That implication seems to be there - but such a thing naturally depends on the wider context.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


It's logically obvious, because there's no particular reason why we should correlate the global standing of academic journals specifically in conjunction with German universities.

But the text is syntactically ambiguous as regards whether adjectival German extends to the second noun phrase (academic journals).

  • Is there a way to avoid such ambiguity, without repeating German?
    – Sasan
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 11:02
  • 1
    Why would you want to? As stated, the correct interpretation is obvious, so any further attempt to spell it out could be considered patronising (implying your readers might really lack the common sense to choose the "correct" interpretation). Syntactically speaking, you could in principle repeat adjectival German, and that might be the best choice in some syntactically similar contexts. But sometimes it might be better to go for more wholesale rephrasing to make the entire sentence more obviously focused on the relevant adjective (which thus applies to all candidate nouns). Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 11:14
  • 1
    Note that in "algebraic" notation the sense can be conveyed by brackets: the global standing of German (universities + academic journals) or ...(German universities) + (academic journals). But English isn't algebra. Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 11:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .