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I ran into this sentence:

In spite of my warning, they left on the hike.

I wonder what they left on the hike means. I know hike means a long walk, especially in the countryside. Then does the sentence say they left the group while the group was on a hike? I mean they left the group while all of them were on a hike.

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    If I wanted to express your interpretation, I would write In spite of my warning, they left the hike. As written, I agree with Watercleave's interpretation 100%.
    – Adam
    Jan 24, 2015 at 17:21

2 Answers 2

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To "go on a hike" means to go hiking. I would say that the speaker warned "them" not to go hiking, and they went hiking regardless. It doesn't imply (to me, at least) that they left a group that was already hiking, while the group was hiking.

In other words, in spite of my warning, they went hiking.

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  • Thx, could you tell me why the writer has used the hike? Using the definite articles implies that it has been mentioned before. Is it even ambiguous? Can we say both your interpretation and mine are possible?
    – Juya
    Jan 24, 2015 at 17:03
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    You're right; it may have been mentioned earlier in the story, even if it wasn't mentioned just before the extract you gave. As long as there is one specific hike important to the story, that's the one the speaker is referring to. It's hard to tell without the context. I wouldn't say it's impossible that it's ambiguous, but it is a very odd way of phrasing it if your interpretation is correct. Personally, I'll stand by my interpretation. Jan 24, 2015 at 17:08
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    My take is that they had been contemplating a hike. "I" warned them not to go on that hike, and they left on that hike (the one I warned them about) anyway.
    – Jim
    Jan 24, 2015 at 17:58
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    @Juya: I do not think any other interpretation is possible. To give your interpretation, the author would have had to write something like "In spite of my warning, they left the group" or "they left the other hikers". (I would consider "In spite of my warning, they left the hike" to be poor English, not ambiguous.)
    – Tom Church
    Jan 24, 2015 at 18:53
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    It's also possible that they were at a trailhead that leads only one place, thus the specific hike was implied even if it wasn't stated. Jan 25, 2015 at 4:01
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A group of people was considering taking a hike. A particular hike. At least, to a particular place via a particular path, and perhaps, at a particular time.

The speaker warned them:

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

The group decided to take the walk anyway, in spite of the warnings of the speaker. So they left on the hike: a definite article since a definite hike was being discussed.

And then they were eaten by a bear.

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