Questions tagged [ambiguity]

This tag is for questions about the multiple meanings of a word, or phrase.

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told me about the way

a. He told me how he was arrested. b. He told me about how he was arrested. c. He told me the way he was arrested. d.He told me about the way he was arrested. I know (a) could have two meanings. It ...
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in "its battery pack restricted cargo space", is the battery or cargo space limited?

Please help me with this one especially because it's stressing me out big time. The text goes: "The vehicle was the second mass-produced hybrid on the American market, after the two seat Honda ...
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What is the meaning of the word "posting" in this sentence?

One form, the OSHA no. 200 serves a dual purpose. it is used as the Log of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, on which the occurrence and extent of cases are recorded during the year and as the ...
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What is the meaning of " encourages it for…" in this context?

Agriculture expands yield production to meet demand to limit overlapping, and the government encourages it for crop yield forecast on TamilNadu dataset imports."
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Can something be incomplete without starting something first?

I'm just curious about this word. The definition of incomplete is: not having all the necessary or appropriate parts. not full or finished.
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Is 'got' ambiguous in this example?

A woman is talking on the phone with her ex-husband: "All I know right now is that I got two crying kids home Saturday who told me they didn't want to see you again, OK?" The ex-husband had ...
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9 votes
7 answers
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In the sentence "The table was set for lunch" is "set" a verb or an adjective?

The table was set for lunch I want to see if this is a passive sentence. I think if the word "set" is a verb it is passive, but if “set” is an adjective it would be an active one.
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Meaning of 'Last but not the least' in Google dictionary

I searched the phrase Last but not the least in Google. Google dictionary shows the meaning last in order of mention or occurrence but not of importance Shouldn't it be: last in order of mention or ...
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"I want my photograph taken" or "I want to have my photograph taken"?

I am reading the story With the photographer written by Stephen Leacock (he was native speaker). The story is given online here. In the beginning, he says I want my photograph taken. Shouldn't this ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What's the meaning of " wildness" in this context? Could it mean our nature/essence that we were born with?

. He tried to shape in his mind what he had to say to McDonald. It was a feeling; it was an urge that he had to speak. But whatever he spoke he knew would be but another name for the wildness that he ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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have to be careful

a. It is something that you have to be careful to notice. I suppose one meaning of (a) is: You have to be careful and notice that thing. But could it also mean If you notice that, then that means ...
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to deal with matters related with insurance

a. We have an accountant in our company to deal with matters related to insurance. b. In our company, we have an accountant to deal with matters related to insurance. c. We have an accountant to deal ...
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Wasn't simply a case of negligence

a. The management says that the fire started because a technician was negligent. But it wasn't only a case of a technician being negligent. The whole system was flawed. b. The management says that the ...
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can do it in any manner

a. I can do it in any manner. I think that means that I can do it in all possible ways. b, I doubt you can do it in any manner. It seems to me that (b) is ambiguous. It could mean I doubt you can do ...
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do the work anyway [closed]

a. You will have to do the work anyway. I think here 'anyway' means 'in any case', but could it also mean 'in any manner you can'? Is the sentence ambiguous?
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"earn" and its ambiguity direct object

I earn my living by fighting on arena for many years as gladiator. There is some ambiguity in this sentence. In my opinion it convey two different meanings: 1. I earn (money/and so on) for my living ...
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drank wine or whiskey

a. The guests drank wine or whiskey. b. The guests drank either wine or whiskey. Are the above sentences ambiguous? I think they could be used in these two cases: They all drank one of the two Some ...
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2 answers
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Issues identifying the subject of a text

I was talking with some friends in Discord and I wrote this small text to them as follows: A dude was hit by a car right in front of my house. There was so much blood. An Ambulance took him though. I ...
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"Apart from": exсlusion or inclusion?

Some people say that apart from means inclusion (example 1), and some say that it means exclusion (example 2). Apart from being a good husband, he is also a good father. It means he is a good husband ...
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-3 votes
2 answers
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meaning of "make sense" [closed]

The following sentence is ambiguous. But does it make sense? Someone insists that ambiguous sentences don't make sense. Maybe "make sense" has a special meaning I am not aware of? John saw ...
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1 vote
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"My apartment building" - does the entire building belong to the speaker or just the apartment?

If one were to say "I entered my apartment building", does that mean that: the building contains the speaker's apartment (which belongs to him/which he holds on lease); or that the ENTIRE ...
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1 answer
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"Differences between states" is fine, but "differences between provinces and territories" is ambiguous. How to remove ambiguity?

I always seem to fall into the following trap, and I would like to know what's the best way to avoid any ambiguity when comparing between different elements, where said elements belong to different ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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How can I make the antecedent more targeted?

We find that two properties of the function that describes A that the recent literature calls B and C play a vital role. For the bolded that, my intended antecedent is "properties", but I ...
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needs someone to

a. He needs a wife to overcome his alcoholism. b. He wants a wife to overcome his alcoholism. ============================= c. He needs someone to overcome his alcoholism. d. He wants someone to ...
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Potentially ambiguous meaning of "take whichever you want"

Let's consider a sentence: Take whichever you want. Does that mean: Take whichever one you want. or Take whichever ones you want. I think the sentence is ambiguous and could be used instead of ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
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“Half-cooked meat” ambiguity [closed]

Can “half-cooked meat” mean that half the meat is cooked and the rest is raw or does it mean that the meat is not cooked enough? Source: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/ribeye-steak-beef-on-...
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1 answer
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“I run out in the cave.”

Can “I run out in the cave” mean both “I run out into the cave” and “I run out of the cave”? For example, “jump on the couch” means “jump onto the couch” and “jump off the couch.”
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3 votes
3 answers
90 views

Can the verb "to impress someone with something" be used in a negative way?

I am quoting from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Greek Interpreter by Arthur Conan Doyle: His visitor, on entering his rooms, had drawn a life-preserver from his sleeve, and had so impressed him ...
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1 vote
1 answer
41 views

Does " I will go at x o'clock," imply I will arrive at said time, or does it imply I will have left for the bar at said time

For example, If I were to say, "I will go to the bar at two o'clock," does it imply I will arrive at said time, or does it imply I will have left for the bar at said time.
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rather a + adj + noun

When the noun is preceded by an adjective both rather a (more typical of British English) and a rather are found. When a rather is used, rather qualifies only the adjective, whereas with rather a it ...
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2 answers
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“A knife cut in half” [closed]

“A knife cut in half” can mean? A knife was cut in half. (to undergo incision or severance) A knife cut something in half. (to perform the operation of dividing, severing, incising, or intersecting)
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3 answers
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Is this sentence intricate for a native speaker? Is it clear which items are located where? [closed]

I am writing for an IELTS practice test. The question is to describe the changes that is going to be done in an airport. Grammerly marks the following sentence as intricate! I am curious to know if it ...
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1 answer
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Meaning of the word 'figure' in "The figures involved are truly very large."?

The figures involved are truly very large. I read it from the Collins Dictionary definition of "large" Meaning 2: A large amount or number of people or things is more than the average ...
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-2 votes
2 answers
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ellipsis: [the people too]

Does "the people too" in the following mean the council hates the people too? Or the people hates the place too? Go to almost any city and you find sink estates where you get the feeling ...
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Does ‘for the first time’ have two meanings? [closed]

He made a robot for the first time. The other made a robot earlier than he, but he made a robot for the first time of his life. He is the first person who made a robot, and nobody made a robot before....
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Plural and singular nouns after preposition 'of' in grammar explanation resources

I have read a few explanations about how to use nouns in sentences. I found two common versions of the explanations. Nouns can be used as subjects of sentences. reference1 / reference2 Nouns can be ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Are there any rules for placing a noun after a preposition?

I still cannot master which form of nouns (singular or plural) should be placed before and after the preposition "of". For example, if I want to refer to one book of each student, which one ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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as little sensitive as possible

a. I gave them as little sensitive information as possible. Can't that sentence be read in two ways? I think little could be modifying sensitive or information, so I see two possible readings: The ...
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5 votes
1 answer
681 views

Meaning of "boiling water" in cooking instructions

When the phrase "boiling water" is used in cooking instructions, does it mean "water that is fit for the purpose of boiling" (similar to the use of "cooking oil") or &...
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2 votes
1 answer
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‘I weirdly affected my friend’

Can ‘I weirdly affected my friend’ not only mean ‘I affected my friend in a weird way,’ but also ‘I made a weird effect on my friend’?
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1 vote
0 answers
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How should I order the sentence with "noun clause" and "wh clause"?

I hope that all of you have a nice day. When the subject is a bit long, we can use "it" as the representative of the "that-noun clause". What if the object or subject complement is ...
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0 answers
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Is ‘I walked a dog slowly’ ambiguous?

Is I walked a dog slowly ambiguous? I played game and at last after 3 hours I made a dog move fast. I walked a dog right away but I made a dog move slowly like a snail.
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2 answers
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Negation and ambiguity which leads to two interpretations "I don’t run fast like him"

Can I don’t run fast like him mean he runs fast and he doesn’t run fast both? It’s very confusing to me.
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0 votes
1 answer
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Ferrari engines factory

Does the phrase "Ferrari engines factory" have theoretically two meanings? I think that it can mean either of 1- (Ferrari engines) factory = The factory manufacturing ferrari engines 2- ...
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How to interpret a "... of..." structure: "protest of CEOs"?

When Americans notice business and politics mingling in other countries they often see it as a sign of institutional decay, crony capitalism or authoritarianism. Today the mixing of government and ...
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2 votes
3 answers
268 views

What does "we learned" mean here?

I am wondering what "we learned" means in the following sentences: I notice Will and Dad sizing each other up surreptitiously. In Dad’s company, oddly, Will seems a little diminished, a ...
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0 votes
2 answers
220 views

How to eliminate ambiguity of "Sisters reunited after ten years in checkout line at Safeway."?

Background Cited from p. 12 Introduction to Mathematical Thinking by Keith Devlin. Sisters reunited after ten years in checkout line at Safeway Ambiguities in newspaper headlines—which are generally ...
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4 answers
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Ambiguity in "I drank water three more times than before"

Suppose I'll be seeing the doctor again after the first appointment and I have noticed one thing: today, I drank water three more times than before, but I believe this sentence is ambiguous in that it ...
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0 votes
0 answers
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Ambiguity of ‘I ate food a lot’ [duplicate]

Does I ate food a lot mean ambiguously? I ate a lot of food. I made a lot of chewing, biting or the other action on food.
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0 votes
1 answer
25 views

Yes/no answer on a specific statement

A is 178cm tall, and here is the conversation between A and B. A: I am 180cm tall B: yes/no, that’s nearly true. Are both yes and no acceptable? If not, what does whether yes or no is suitable depend ...
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