Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

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-1
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2answers
62 views

About “AND” Which one is correct? And Why?

How can I understand the sentence below? My best friend and my father’s father both come from Wales. Which one of these is correct? And Why? A. My best friend and my father's father (...
7
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2answers
555 views

Possible ambiguities when using “home” as an adverb? (study home, write home…)

I'm aware of the adverbialization of the word "home" in English. I go home. I read letters at home/home. But in what kind of sentences could we find that home and at home can't be interchangeable? (...
6
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4answers
1k views

Ambiguity - Should it be “mindful of committing logical fallacies” or “mindful of not committing logical fallacies”?

From Collins, If you are mindful of something, you think about it and consider it when taking action. When I am writing, I am always mindful of committing logical fallacies (e.g., red herring, ...
0
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1answer
27 views

on both sides/on the two sides

a. The conflict claimed about two hundred lives on all sides. b. The conflict claimed about two hundred lives on the three sides. Do those mean all in all there were two hundred lives lost or ...
0
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2answers
29 views

“Prior to the 1980s” does it include the 1980s or not?

High pollution was observed prior to the 1980s. Which period does 'Prior to the 1980s' refer to, 1)include, 2)partially include, 3)exclude the period of the 1980s?
0
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1answer
31 views

He is getting to be a naughty boy

When "get" is followed by an infinitive, it means "manage" or "have an opportunity". He is getting to be a naughty boy. It means "he manages to be a naughty boy" or "he has an opportunity to be ...
24
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5answers
6k views

Is “Ram married his daughter” ambiguous?

Ram married his daughter is ambiguous because: Marry means marry somebody to become a spouse. The second meaning is perform the marriage ritual as a priest. So, if Ram is a priest he can marry his ...
0
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2answers
67 views

He left her a widow

He left her a widow. I think this sentence is ambiguous. The possible meanings are: 1. He died and she became a widow. 2. He kept a widow in her care. Could you please analyze the sentences and ...
2
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1answer
39 views

When do “empty” and “full” require another adjective to remove the possible ambiguity?

Does "full" and "empty" always mean "completely" full and empty? Isn't it ambiguous to say: The variable X represent the weight of the container when it is full. when we are talking about the ...
1
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2answers
45 views

it was six months away

a. It was six months away from his graduation from college. b. It was six months from his graduation from college. c. He was six months away from graduating from college. d. He was six ...
0
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1answer
15 views

“is written” (single or habitual action, tense choice)

Let's consider the sentence containing the phrase "is written": How this word is written? Does this phrase mean Single action: a concrete situation, how the word was written once by someone? ...
2
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2answers
43 views

“Helped with the algorithm” vs “Helped to implement the algorithm”

Let's say I helped my colleague to implement some algorithm (in C# programming language, for example. He didn't know how to write it and I explained that to him). And now I'm writing a daily report: ...
-1
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1answer
55 views

aside from his financial situation

a. Aside from his financial situation, he has a lot to be grateful for. b. Aside from his financial situation, he has a lot of other things to be grateful for. c. Aside from his financial ...
34
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6answers
12k views

Can fluent English speakers distinguish between “steel”, “still”, and “steal”?

Can fluent English speakers understand this sentence the first time they hear it? What? They still steal steel? Can they hear a difference between the pronunciation of the words still, steal, and ...
2
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1answer
11 views

Does the phrase “fit in” make sense to non-native English speakers?

I was planning to use the expression "fit in" in a presentation -- as in "how do you fit in [to the group]?" The audience will include people who speak English as a second language. There will be a ...
1
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1answer
23 views

Ambiguity, accusing someone on social media or threating someone on social media?

Ocasio-Cortez has accused CBP agents of making threats to her life on social media — saying a “secret Facebook group” of 9,500 officers discussed making a GoFundMe to harm her and the other Dems ...
1
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1answer
26 views

until now - ambiguity?

The Longman Dictionary has the following sentence: Until now, doctors have been able to do very little to treat this disease. Does it mean that doctors are still able to do very little to treat ...
0
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3answers
34 views

The meaning of more than in mathematics

In a mathematical question it is stated as follows. On Monday I sold 15 cows and today 5 more than on Monday. How many did I sell today? The question is one of ambiguity. Does 5 more refer to a ...
15
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2answers
3k views

I received a gift from my sister who just got back from

If I don’t use a comma before the word who in this sentence below, then would it imply that I have more than one sister (supposing the speaker had only one sister)? I received a gift from my sister ...
1
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1answer
26 views

Can “a one” be an unambiguous substitution of “a [noun]”?

I want to use "a one" in the following sentence to refer to a single coat: I heard that coats were invented for this reason and therefore wearing a one will surely keep you warm. Does "one" take ...
4
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2answers
249 views

He is the first man to arrive here

He is the first man to arrive here. I'm confused what this sentence means. I think it could mean either of the options below according to context, like He is the first man who is going to arrive ...
0
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1answer
35 views

What does the word “them” signify here?

Here is a sentence from a schedule planner app: In the app, you can easily group to-dos into projects and drag tasks within and between them. I am not sure if the word "them" is used here for "...
2
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3answers
21 views

Having problem comprehending “need to be used occasionally”

I cannot understand the exact meaning of this sentence in the following: Remember, too, that the words "I love you, I like being in a relationship with you. ..." are not demands and need to be said ...
0
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3answers
40 views

Is “should be” talking about the past or the present or the future?

Not sure who’s working but this should be resolved. Does that should be resolved part mean (1) that it has already been resolved in the past, or (2) that he is expecting or needing it to be resolved ...
0
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2answers
49 views

How to reference previously mentioned words without ambiguity?

There are TV programmes produced by the Ministry of Education for high school students, and (1) they \ students can attend (2) these lectures remotely without traveling to schools. Assuming you are a ...
1
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2answers
55 views

infinitive clause ambiguity

We need him to accomplish this task. Is this an ambiguous sentence? I think the possible interpretations are: 1: We can't accomplish this task without him/We need him in order to accomplish this ...
2
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2answers
92 views

very soft and sweet

a. The fruit I tasted was very soft and sweet. It seems to me that (a) is ambiguous. It could mean The fruit I ate was very soft and very sweet. or The fruit I tasted was very soft and it was also ...
2
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2answers
35 views

A boy didn't read every book

In my opinion, "A boy didn't read every book"is ambiguous, it can express"a boy didn't read any book" or "Not every book were read by the boy".Am I right?
2
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3answers
54 views

claim one's autonomy

Is the phrase "claim one's autonomy" ambiguous? Could it mean "say one deserves autonomy" and "achieve or gain one's autonomy"? Suppose someone said the following: The teenager claimed his ...
0
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1answer
18 views

What is the meaning of “to work part time and summers”?

I want to know the exact meaning of "to work part time and summers". Does this mean someone works part time through the year and works full time in summer? Or does this mean he works part-time only in ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

three times each

a. On three occasions, three firemen came to our bar. b. Three times, three firemen came to our bar. c. Three firemen came to our bar on three occasions. d. Three firemen came to ...
4
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3answers
3k views

There was a farmer had a dog, but which one was named Bingo?

There was a farmer had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o. From these words alone (so, without appealing to different versions, translations, likelihoods of names, etc.), is there some way to decide ...
7
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6answers
1k views

How to avoid ambiguity of the antecedent of a relative clause?

I wrote this technical text, which I found ambiguous: What's a child expression? It's a call expression inside a function, which represents a parent call expression. For the purposes of ...
0
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1answer
33 views

Most likely interpretation of parents' “anniversary”?

When someone says it's their parents' anniversary, does "anniversary" by default mean wedding anniversary, or do English speakers by default consider "anniversary" vague, requiring clarification like ...
1
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1answer
381 views

“As of now”, is it possible to distinguish between the meanings?

I am quite puzzled as not even native speakers can agree whether "as of now" means "currently" or "from now on". Looking in the dictionaries: (Oxford) As from (of) - Used to indicate the time or date ...
3
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2answers
77 views

One/Two onion rings?

When making an order, is it correct to say the following? If so, Why? If not what is the correct way? Can I get one onion rings? In case you want two servings, Can I get two onion rings?
2
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2answers
141 views

How to understand “Minnie invited Mickey next door.”

Minnie invited Mickey next door. I saw this sentence from a children's book. It's a simple one. But I'm confused by the meaning. In my opinion, it can be understood as: Minnie invited Mickey, who ...
0
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1answer
24 views

It position in sentence

How to recognize which subject or object "it" is referring to in the following sentence: The Pump gives 10 bar pressure to the Machine and it will give good production. Here how can we identify ...
5
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1answer
76 views

About Uncle Ben's famous quote “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”

With great power comes great responsibility I can see that it is inverted to emphasize great power and responsibility. However, when I reverse it to a normal order(?), it is not only mundane but the ...
0
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1answer
67 views

she was happy to see her mother

a. She was happy to see her mother. Does this mean a1. She was happy when she saw her mother. a2. She was happy that she'd seen her mother. a3. She was happy that she was going to see her mother. ...
1
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3answers
490 views

a CERTAIN answer?

Can "certain" be used as a synonym of "definite" in front of "answer"? When I hear "a certain answer", I think about "a specific answer" not a "definite" nor "ultimate" answer. Can a "certain answer"...
0
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1answer
50 views

usage of “his certainty” [closed]

Jacob's long absence intensified his certainty that he should marry Rose. I think there is an ambiguity. For my opinion the expression "his certainty" spoiling the logic. If I'm wrong could you ...
1
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3answers
95 views

a man and a woman

a. I talked to a man and woman. b. I talked to a lean man and woman. Does (a) mean they were together? Does (b) mean they were together? Does (b) mean they were both lean? =======================...
1
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1answer
71 views

Can the sentence “This world is sad” have two meanings?

"This world is sad." Since "sad" can mean either "saddening (depressing)" or "unhappy", I think that this sentence I gave can mean either "This world is saddening." or "This world is unhappy.", am I ...
0
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1answer
45 views

constraints on “anything but”

Are these examples are all acceptable and illustrative of the same use of anything but? What constraints, if any, are at work? He looked anything but happy. He did anything but watch TV. (= ? ...
0
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2answers
51 views

Why weren't 17th-century readers dazed by ambiguous pronouns in long sentences? [closed]

John McWhorter PhD Linguistics (Stanford). The Power of Babel (2003). p. 241 Middle. Milton's it (in green) feels ambiguous and bungled. He ought to have rewritten the referent, as I would've never ...
4
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3answers
2k views

Have you not seen this movie? No

Have you not seen this movie? I'm confused as to what to say, my first reply was: No, I haven't seen it. Is this answer correct for this question or do I reply by answering the following: a. No, I ...
1
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2answers
1k views

What does “the least possible value” mean?

I was working on a GMAT question: The least possible value for the mean of the numbers of hours of TV reported for the week is [choices]. It a single choice question. But in the phrase "the least ...
4
votes
1answer
65 views

Fix ambiguity in “You're Not Obligated to Work Until You're 30”

The sentence in the title has two, almost contradicting interpretations. (1) that you are not obligated to do the task "work until you're 30", or (2) you are not obligated to do the task "work" until ...
0
votes
2answers
55 views

cannot open any safe

a. I don't believe he's able to open any safe. b. I don't believe he can open any safe. Don't (a) and (b) have two meanings? First meaning: I don't believe he's able to open just any safe. ...