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Imagine that the police is looking for witnesses to a killing, and they ask me if I saw a person. After I say I saw him, I am asked where I saw him and, being close the place where I saw him, I say "I saw him going toward that room."

How would the sentence be normally understood?

  • I saw him while I was going toward that room.
  • I saw him, and he was going toward that room.
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    It's ambiguous and requires a context, but I'd say that normally I'd understand it to mean "When I saw him, he was headed in the direction of that room", not "When I saw him, I was headed in the direction of that room" – user264 Apr 8 '13 at 13:42
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Normally it would be understood as the second statement. When speaking to the police, a lawyer, or in a court of law, I would be very precise and to make it clear that he was the one going toward the room, it is safer that say anyone of these:

When I saw him, he was going toward that room.

He was going toward that room when I saw him.

I saw him as he was going toward that room.

If you were the one going toward the room use you first statement. You could also use "As I was going toward that room, I saw him."

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