I have difficulty understanding the adverb of the following sentence.

I like to play football a lot.

The adverb 'a lot' describes 'like' or the infinitive 'to play'? If the answer is 'like' why not 'play'?

Is this sentence ambiguous and does need editing or it's a completely clear sentence to a native speaker?


1 Answer 1


Yes, that sentence is ambiguous. It could mean the speaker likes to play football often or really enjoys playing it. As a native speaker, when I read the sentence, I think the speaker is saying that he really likes to play rather than likes to play often. To avoid confusion, you could use one these alternate sentences:

I like to play football often.

I really like playing football.

If not one of these, I highly suggest you use some other sentence to avoid the ambiguity. Without the clarification, it is very possible for natives to misunderstand you. I suppose context could help, though.

  • Thanks, just one thing. You suggested to put often at the end to avoid ambiguity. So, is this sentence wrong? 'I like it often, but right now I'm not in the mood for it'
    – Yuri
    Feb 27, 2016 at 23:23
  • What I mean is if this sentence is right and common which describes 'like' by the same analogy putting 'often' after 'to play football' can refer back to 'like'
    – Yuri
    Feb 27, 2016 at 23:28
  • 2
    It's worth pointing out, though, that the ambiguity isn't necessarily a problem. People who really enjoy playing football tend to like playing football often, so the "ambiguous" way of saying it emphasizes both points – which may be what the speaker wants to express.
    – J.R.
    Feb 28, 2016 at 0:07
  • @J.R. That's a very good point.
    – Jacob
    Feb 28, 2016 at 0:27
  • @Azad Yes, that sentence works :)
    – Jacob
    Feb 28, 2016 at 0:29

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