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From the NY Times,

"Their father has the only key to the front door, and he keeps it locked. In some years, they are allowed outside only a handful of times. In others, not at all."

The sentence is too ambiguous for me to understand. What I understand is that, their father had only one key for front door. After some years they are allowed to go outside. After that, it's as in the last sentence: "In others, not at all." I don't get that part.

Is that grammatically correct, if yes what does it mean?

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  • Provide a link to the story. Or, since the NYT sometimes blocks access to its articles, quote more context here. Second, what specifically makes you think this is not grammatical or that it is ambiguous?
    – user6951
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 16:48
  • nyti.ms/1uCPEc9
    – ajayramesh
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 16:52
  • The last sentence... " In others, not at all" .. I feel little bit lost over there. What do you mean it?
    – ajayramesh
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 16:54
  • PARK CITY, Utah — It’s quite a tale: Seven children, all with waist-length hair, are raised on welfare in a messy four-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And they are almost never allowed to leave the house. For years. Their father has the only key to the front door, and he keeps it locked. In some years, they are allowed outside only a handful of times. In others, not at all. The kicker is that the story is true — and all but one of the children still live there. - snippet from NY times
    – ajayramesh
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 16:55
  • What part of it do you not understand?
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 16:57

1 Answer 1

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"In some years, they are allowed outside only a handful of times" - this tells us the father is extremely controlling, denying his children access to the outside world except for a very small number of occasions.

"In others" - this means, other years, because "some years" was the subject in the previous sentence - "not at all" - the kids don't get let outside every year...

I can't see quite where it's ambiguous, however - presumably the reference back to the previous sentence?

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  • I think the ambiguity is that the OP interpreted "In some years the children were allowed to go outside " as "After some # of years had elapsed, the children were then allowed ..." rather than "During some years the children were allowed...."
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 17:23

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