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From the University of Alabama "Application for Admission", as of February 2016:

At the time of your entry to UA, will you have been separated from the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves with a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge or been dismissed by sentence of a general court-martial or sentenced to confinement adjudged by a court-martial or in a federal or state penitentiary or correctional institution?

The meaning of the above sentence is that, I will not be disrespectful or not to the US army or any national Guard services. Is it right?

  • 4
    It's a hard and unclear sentence. As an English speaker I have to read it once, then work backward to see what phrases each "or" applies to. – djechlin Feb 3 '16 at 21:13
  • It's basically asking are you a criminal or convict when entering UA. – slebetman Feb 4 '16 at 3:44
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The sentence is a question. It is difficult to read, even for a native speaker, so let's consider what it asks, one piece at a time:

At the time of your entry to UA, will you have been...

The question asks about a condition being true at the time you enter UA. The condition might be true now (at the time of your application) or you might expect it to become true between now and whenever you enter UA.

...separated from the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves with...

This asks if you have left (or will have left) the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves under certain conditions (in the with phrase that follows). In order for this to be true, you must have been a member of the U.S. Armed Forces in the past and then left the Armed Forces. If you have never been in the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves, the answer to this part of question must be "no" (but see the final point for a possible "yes").

...with a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge...

A "dishonorable discharge" or "bad conduct discharge" is a specific kind of formal dismissal from the U.S. military. When you leave the military, your discharge can honorable or dishonorable. If you were in the military and left the military dishonorably, then the answer to this question is "yes".

...or been dismissed by sentence of a general court-martial...

A court-martial is a military court. If you left the military because of sentence passed by a military court, you must answer this question "yes".

...or sentenced to confinement adjudged by a court-martial or in a federal or state penitentiary or correctional institution?

If a court-martial sentenced you to confinement, or you were you otherwise sentenced to jail (by a non-military court), you must answer this question "yes". The "or" here joins modifiers on the type of confinement: either confinement adjudged by a court-martial or confinement in a federal or state penitentiary or correctional institution.

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    It is not clear whether being "sentenced to confinement" "in a federal or state penitentiary or correctional institution" requires an answer of "yes", even if the confinement had nothing to do with military service. – Jasper Feb 3 '16 at 21:06
  • @Jasper Right, I see now (I think) the final "or" joins possible qualifiers on the type of confinement: confinement that is [adjudged by a court-martial] OR [in a federal or state penitentiary]. – apsillers Feb 3 '16 at 21:20
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The way I would phrase it would be:

At the time of your entry to UA, will any of the following be the case?

  • You have been separated from the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves with a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge
  • You have been dismissed from the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves by sentence of a general court-martial
  • You have been sentenced to confinement adjudged by a court-martial or in a federal or state penitentiary or correctional institution

If none of those are the case, you answer no.

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This sentence combines 5 questions and a time-frame. The intent is to understand certain aspects of your personal history as related to character and conduct. This intent is identified in the headings for this section of the application form and the 3 paragraphs following it.

The time-frame is "when (if?) you are accepted to the university."

The questions are:

  1. "Have you been discharged from the Military for dishonorable service?"
  2. "Have you been discharged from the Military for bad conduct?"
  3. "Have you been discharged from the Military by a military court?"
  4. "Have you been sentenced to confinement by a military court?"
  5. "Will you be in prison?"

Answering 'yes' to any one or more of these five questions should result in a 'yes' answer on the form.

The context of the application form and the 5 previous questions implies that the fifth portion of this question also applies to persons who have not served in the military.

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  • The time-frame is from the applicant's birth through the time the applicant enters the university. In particular, it included the time from when the applicant is accepted until the applicant enters the university. – Jasper Feb 4 '16 at 1:34
  • It is not just "will you be in prison". It also includes having been sentenced to jail, prison, criminal insane asylum, or other "correctional institution" -- even if the applicant did not actually serve time in such an institution. It includes past sentences, not just future incarceration. – Jasper Feb 4 '16 at 1:37

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