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Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

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0answers
16 views

as I played the guitar

a. As I played the guitar, he played the piano. b. Just as I played the guitar, he played the piano. c. He played the piano as I played the guitar. d. He played the piano just as I ...
2
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3answers
19 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 ...
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3answers
34 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 ...
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2answers
46 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 ...
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2answers
41 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
45 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
32 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
35 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 ...
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1answer
17 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 ...
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1answer
32 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 ...
3
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2answers
182 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
30 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 ...
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1answer
59 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 ...
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2answers
63 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?
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2answers
137 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 ...
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1answer
20 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 ...
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1answer
47 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 ...
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1answer
45 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. ...
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3answers
183 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"...
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1answer
38 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
74 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? =======================...
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1answer
69 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 ...
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1answer
38 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. (= ? ...
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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 ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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2answers
625 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 ...
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1answer
56 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 ...
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2answers
52 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. ...
0
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1answer
61 views

Using the word “sad” after a noun

On Collins dictionary, one of the meanings of "sad" is: "If you describe someone as sad, you do not have any respect for them and think their behavior or ideas are ridiculous.", and it says that it is ...
0
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0answers
65 views

I play a lot of video games

I think all these sentences below are interchangeable when I want to mean like very often, but the forth one can cause ambiguity, am I right? It can have two meanings: I play video games very often ...
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2answers
54 views

Doesn't “must” cause ambiguity since it has two meanings

First, let me give you two examples: She has a difficult job. She must work hard. She has a very difficult life. She must be patient. Since "must" can also be used for meaning "most likely" ...
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2answers
63 views

Does “Three students were given two notebooks. ” mean that each student was given two?

The three students were given two notebooks. I created the sentence above in order to describe that one student could not get the notebook. I am afraid whether this sentence may be interpreted as ...
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1answer
24 views

wine and beer vs. wine or beer

a. They were drinking wine and beer. b. They were drinking wine or beer. Can one use (a) if some were wine and the others beer? Can (b) used in that case? Does (a) necessarily imply that all the ...
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1answer
18 views

Ambiguity in negation : Multasking is not productive and efficient

I didn't get any score from my English teacher as she said the following sentence on my answer sheet belongs to a partial negation. "Multasking is not productive and efficient." By writing the ...
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1answer
51 views

Part of speech of 'to' in the following Context:

As explained in the article , verbs that follow prepositions are usually gerund forms that act as nouns instead of verbs(usually Verb+ing). But in the sentence: "Tell John to bring some food", 'bring' ...
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2answers
42 views

Does “to John and Henry” mean to each separately, or to both together?

a. She gave John and Henry seventy dollars. b. She gave John and Henry a knife and a flashlight. c. She gave twenty dollars to John and Henry. d. She gave a knife and a flashlight to ...
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2answers
61 views

gave them each a phone and a computer

a. I gave a phone and a computer to my two best students. b. I gave them a phone and a computer. c. I gave a phone and a computer to both of them. d. I gave them both a phone and a computer. Can ...
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2answers
11k views

Does “She had a brother” mean that her brother is dead?

My Friend has sent me this riddle to solve: "If you solve this, then you are a genius. Mr.Smith has 4 daughters🙍‍♀🙍‍♀🙍‍♀🙍‍♀ and each daughter had a brother. How many children does Mr. ...
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4answers
46 views

Can the phrase “have got to know” have two meanings

Recently I have stumbled across a phrase mankind has got to know his limitations but could not really understand it. I'm confused by "has got to know" and how I should distinguish some words here. ...
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1answer
60 views

twice the size of a sphere/cube

I want to know the most commonly understood meaning of phrases like "twice the size of" or "three times the size of" 3D objects. If I say "this ball is twice the size of a table tennis ball", do ...
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3answers
64 views

How should an amphibian answer “Do you live in water”? [closed]

As commonly known, amphibians live both in water and on land. Then how should we answer to a YES-NO question that only accepts a boolean answer such as "Does it live in water?" when we are referring ...
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1answer
83 views

ran all over the hill

a. The deer ran over the hill. b. The deer moved over the hill. c. The deer went over the hill. Can we tell if the deer crossed the hill or if ran/walked about on the hill? ========================...
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2answers
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Does “and” indicate which event came first: “I had an accident and woke up in 1977”

My name is Edward Ball. I had an accident and I woke up in 1977. Is this sentence a bit ambiguous? Because of and we could understand that he woke up first and then had an accident. What comes first, ...
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2answers
46 views

How to remove ambiguity in “You must purchase A that optionally includes B, C, and D.”?

The following sentence, in my opinion, is ambiguous. You must purchase A that optionally includes B, C, and D. The meaning can be one of the following. You must purchase A, C, and D. A ...
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2answers
64 views

Book Title Meaning

So if a book's title is "I love you,Nora Jane" What does it mean? Does it mean that Nora Jane is saying she loves him or the boy is saying he loves her.What about the ','(comma) that comes. Doesn't ...
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2answers
295 views

Does “I got offered a job in New York.” mean the job is in New York, or I was in New York when it was offered?

I got offered a job in New York. Does this sentence mean: "I got offered a job to work in New York" Or "I got offered a job when I was in New York"? Can this sentence carry both of these meanings by ...
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2answers
12k views

How to interpret the sentence - “A Mother beats up her daughter because she was drunk”? [closed]

"A Mother beats up her daughter because she was drunk" So, who was drunk? Mother, or Daughter? Please tell me how to interpret the sentence. Also, If the mother was drunk how would I write a ...
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1answer
34 views

ambiguity- one or more purchases?

If I have bought two products in a single online transaction, have I made one or two purchases? I'd appreciate your help.
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4answers
74 views

They're closing their shop

We were shopping at the mall. It's late and all the shops were starting to close. "They're closing." "They're closing their shop." Will the second sentence mean the shop is bankrupt?