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I have read the web page about Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin on this URL, (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/CastlevaniaPortraitOfRuin)

According to that web page, Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin are close friends since childhood, and some said, "they are more than just close friends, hinting that they have sincere feelings toward each other".

I am going to write this comment in the page (if I can),
"I think they will get married after they have defeated Dracula",
but I am afraid that my comment will be understood in this way:

Jonathan Morris will marry some other girl instead of Charlotte, and Charlotte Aulin will marry to someone else. Because "they will get married" can either mean that they will become a couple or they marry to some other people.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Or should I write,
"I think they will get married to become a couple after they have defeated Dracula",
but it looks redundant.

  • 4
    Yes, It can be interpreted that way too. I don't think you're wrong. – Varun Nair Dec 28 '15 at 10:26
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    Just a note: in western cultures, people normally become a couple first by dating, then after being a couple for a few months or years, get married. So "getting married to become a couple" would be quite strange. – Karen Dec 28 '15 at 14:33
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    This ambiguity is exploited for laughs in this Monty Python sketch – Nate Eldredge Dec 28 '15 at 18:46
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    You can use the idiom "tie the knot" instead of get married. "I think they will tie the knot". Very few people would think you meant "but not with each other". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 28 '15 at 19:07
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    If you wanted to say that they would get married but not to each other, you would say "I think they will both get married". – Mike Scott Dec 29 '15 at 6:51
27

The default assumption when talking about two people is "to each other". There are no other people that you might be talking about, and the default assumption is definitely not "to other people they haven't met yet."

You'd have to say "They will get married, but probably to other people" if that's what you meant.


If the two people in question are not even potential partners for each other (e.g. close relatives, or known incompatible sexual preferences (gay/straight)), you just wouldn't phrase it this way. Even if your audience also knows that they're related, or highly unlikely to be interested in each other that way, the implication of "to each other" would still be there. So it would sound weird.

If you don't mean "to each other", you could say "they'll probably both get married", because that phrasing implies it would be possible for one to get married without the other. That would be the implication for this phrasing even for two people that are potentially romantically compatible (e.g. two gay males, or a straight guy and straight girl).


You could shorten even further to "I think they'll marry after they defeat Dracula." However, I think that fits better for people that are already a couple. It makes me think you're taking the getting married as a given, and you're guessing about the time it will happen.

For people that haven't shown any obvious romantic feelings for each other, it seems to fit better to say "I think they'll get married after they defeat Dracula". That feels like you're guessing about them hooking up at all, and the specified time frame is secondary.


I'm a native English speaker, born and raised in Canada. It's possible that other English speakers might have a different understanding of this, but I'd be quite surprised. Especially the "they'll marry" phrasing makes it clear that we're talking about "to each other". That implies it's something they'll do together, and "to each other" is what normally happens when two people get married as a joint activity.

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    For what it's worth: native American English speaker here (so practically the same :-P) and I agree with you. I'm no expert on language usage, of course, but in my personal experience, this phrasing is pretty much completely unambiguous. – David Z Dec 28 '15 at 13:34
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    Native British English speaker here, and I agree with you. – Patrick Stevens Dec 28 '15 at 14:27
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    Yep. If someone says they will "get married" and it later emerges that it is to different people that would be an unexpected plot twist. – Martin Smith Dec 28 '15 at 14:41
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    Yes. If you're talking about two people of the opposite sex, and then say they will or might get married, it would normally be understood to mean to each other, unless the context indicated otherwise. Of course if you said, "The two sisters will probably get married soon", we'd understand you to mean to two men. (Unless, I suppose, you've specified that they are homosexuals and people talk about homosexual marriage in their culture.) Etc, context might make it clear you mean to other people, but to each other would be the normal assumption. – Jay Dec 28 '15 at 14:50
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    Nice answer. The only case I can think of where there is not an implied "to each other" is in a sentence like, "I'm getting old; I hope my children will get married and give me grandchildren." -- obviously, that speaker does not hope that her own children will marry each other and incestuously produce grandchildren! – apsillers Dec 28 '15 at 21:39
8

Maybe you can rephrase the sentence as :

"I think they will get married to each other after they have defeated Dracula".

This avoids the redundancy and it becomes quite clear that Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin will get married and become a couple after they defeat Dracula.

  • 7
    Well... I can only speak from my own experience, but as I would read it, there is no ambiguity in the original statement. In fact, (again in my experience) the way you've phrased it here actually adds redundancy. If I say "they will get married" without further qualification, that means they will be marrying each other, and it is redundant (still, in my experience) to explicitly say so. It sounds a little off, honestly - don't get me wrong, the meaning is perfectly clear, it just strikes me as an unusual way to phrase it. – David Z Dec 28 '15 at 13:39
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    Agreed with David that, as a native speaker, this seems redundant and somewhat awkward to me. The "to each other" part is generally assumed unless the context gives reason to believe otherwise. – reirab Dec 28 '15 at 15:42
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    A better (more concise and actively voiced) phrasing would be "will marry each other." – Kyle Strand Dec 29 '15 at 6:30
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    Or, "marry one another", although that may be local to BE. – Mr Lister Dec 29 '15 at 8:13
4

You are correct in sensing that there is an ambiguity in

A and B will get married

it can be rephrased to

A and B will be getting married

both are usually understood to mean the same thing. Just as you might say to your friends

My partner and I will be getting married
My partner and I are getting married

They would start congratulating you and asking when (or sending condolences as the case may be...)

If you want to say each will get married in time and not to each other without ambiguity

A and B will each get married

Because it is a common event (among the population, hopefully not for individuals), the sayings do get shortened.

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    All of those constructs carry the same logical ambiguity as the original phrasing – Euan M Dec 28 '15 at 12:20
-2
  1. My partner and I will be getting married.

  2. My partner and I are getting married.

These two sentences do not mean the same thing. #2 indicates a plan for the future - an appointment to marry. #1 may or may not involve an appointment to marry. The speaker is visualising a future event that s/he believes will take place. If the appointment has not been made then it is simply the marriage that is being visualised. If the appointment has been made then it is the appointment that is being visualised. English grammar (and presumably every other grammar) reflects the thought processes of the speaker and not an external reality. Visualisation is an important element in English grammar.

  • 4
    This appears to be missing the point of the question, instead focusing only on one possible interpretation of the title (which happens to be the wrong one). – Nathan Tuggy Dec 29 '15 at 0:15

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