Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

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29 views

I sent “ballistic” in official meeting and I am from the middle east!

First I am not a native english speaker Today there was a meeting with the tech hardware department where i work One of that department suggested that I should have another meeting with the title of &...
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1answer
31 views

Does the word “apparent” have ambiguity?

I'm learning the word "apparent" which has two apparently different meanings: (1) obvious (2) looks true, but not. How do people solve the ambiguity here? For example, republicans could ...
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1answer
18 views

“for only” vs. “only for”

I'm confused about how a placement of "only" can change the meaning of a sentence. A real life text from the document I'm working on: If possible, use the shorthand syntax: # for an ID, . ...
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25 views

there is no question of . .

The noun "question" has two meanings: "doubt" and "possibility." I'd like to know when "There is no question of . . ." has one meaning but not the other.
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1answer
29 views

“X do not have an alternative” - whether X a thing/situation or a person who makes a descision?

Whether to use a plus sign or an open block for list continuations is up to you. However, since open blocks cannot be nested, it is better to preserve them for those cases where they do not have an ...
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2answers
60 views

Are parts of speech sharply defined categories? Can a single word be included in different parts of speech?

I have been trying to figure out how words are categorized into parts of speech. The way I understand it, words can only be included into various parts of speech depending on their meaning and usage ...
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4answers
2k views

Ambiguity in “his son killed his mother”

Consider that Alex is the son of Bob. Alex's mother (wife of Bob) is Caren and the grandmother of Alex (mother of Bob) is Deb. Now Alex (son of Bob) killed Deb (mother of Bob), if I want to say that ...
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Ambiguity between “you are” and “you would be”

Is it possible in English to create ambiguity between the expressions "you are" and "you would be" as an equivalent of the Italian expressive construct "saresti"? This ...
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1answer
21 views

it isn't impossible for me to be swindled by anyone

a. It isn't impossible for me to be swindled by anyone. b. It is possible for me to be swindled by anyone. I think the meaning of (b) is clear. It seems to be saying that anyone can swindle me. ...
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2answers
36 views

Confused by partial negation

Live bacteria are not present in all yogurt brands. Does it mean "live bacteria are present in some yogurt brands, but not all" or "there is no bacterium in any yogurt brand"? Or ...
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5answers
437 views

Go back home vs come back home

I'm arguing with my girlfriend (we are not native English speakers), what is the proper form, go back home or come back home. For example, consider two versions: I will go to the office and then go ...
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1answer
20 views

an article he wrote

a. He showed me an article which he wrote last night and which was about whales. Could 'last night' modify 'showed'? Could the sentence mean: Last night he showed me an article which he wrote and ...
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2answers
50 views

to share something eatable with someone

If I wish to eat some of the chocolate my friend is eating. Can I say: Give me a bite. Share me a bite. Let me take a bite. Can you share a bite? Important: Does it have any taboos meaning too?
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1answer
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were “the cylindrical wooden fastenings” horizontal or vertical?what does “wrenching asunder” mean?

were "the cylindrical wooden fastenings" horizontal or vertical? how can i imagine it? what does "wrenching asunder" mean? (...)The parts broken were at least five feet removed ...
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2answers
41 views

Does “it is true” and “is quite customary” refer to “explanation”?

Does "it is true" and "is quite customary" refer to "explanation"? and what does it mean? does it mean the "explanation" is both "true" and "...
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1answer
40 views

“I'm caught by the tail.” (I = a tiger) Does the wordplay work? Is it ambiguous?

"catch/have a tiger by the tail" is an idiom we all know. I'm writing some quotes for a character, who is a tiger. Can the tiger say "I'm caught by the tail"? The sentence somewhat ...
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1answer
7 views

Correct future tense of flying

By ear I feel that the answer is "I'm going to fly", but the more I think about it and the more I see "will fly" to Paris as a legitimate option as well, can you guys help me out ...
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1answer
16 views

when he was fouled

a. It wasn't only Tom who was furious when he was fouled. I was too. b. Tom wasn't the only one who was furious when he was fouled. I was too. Could those be used if the intended meaning is Tom was ...
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Adjective noun and use of AND

“Blue shirt and pants“ Does this grammatically mean: A blue shirt and blue pants or a blue shirt and ALL colors of pants? And if known, why is that the answer and what is the rule here?
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1answer
34 views

Why does Crookes want to “avoid inquiry” despite “pursuit of truth”?

Why does Crookes want to "avoid inquiry" despite "pursuit of truth"? It's a bit confusing. He writes: "It argues ill for the boasted freedom of opinion among scientific men that they have so ...
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14answers
4k views

How can I avoid ambiguity in the sentence “I cut the middle of the hose”?

How do I describe exactly in what way this hose was cut? We have at least two ways to cut a hose in the middle. To simplify it, I'll use a bottle as an example. 1) Cutting the hose from the opening. ...
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1answer
58 views

When using “until”, is the time mentioned inclusive or exclusive? [duplicate]

Examples: "I'm going to study until 8PM" Is he going to stop studying at 8PM sharp or 8:01PM? "I'm not going to study until 8PM" Is he going to start studying at 8PM sharp or 8:01PM? "I'm working ...
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2answers
37 views

Distinguishing between subject and object of sentence when the clause seems ambiguous

Looking past the literal meaning of the sentence; I'm struggling to identify which is the true subject and object in the following sentence. "The mother beats up her daughter because she was drunk." ...
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1answer
41 views

Conflicting feedback on my paraphrase: “on the grounds that X should be shared with Y” = “so that X [would/could] be shared with Y”

This is not a question about the meaning of "could" and "would". This is a question about which word fits the context. I got conflicting remarks on my paraphrase of a few sentences. I am not sure ...
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3answers
73 views

How to remove the ambiguity in this sentence?

Let's see a dialogue between a father and a son : (1) Son : Dad, I've got the job. Father : I know you didn't get the job because of your qualification. It's due to the recommendation of the ...
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22 views

some confusing expressions with number

When I want to express one of the series in harry potter, which one is better? ex) Third episode is my favorite among whole series. Third episode/ episode three Are all of them can be used? If not, ...
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42 views

“The way” vs “how”?

'The way' and 'how' are not used together. I know the way how he did it. (Incorrect). I know the way he did it. (Correct) Or, I know how he did it. (Correct) But "I know the reason why he did ...
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1answer
50 views

Instead of be or instead of being?

I know after 'instead of' verb-ing is used. But I have found a sentence : "My father wants me to be bold instead of be cautious". Is it correct? Can we use 'instead of being cautious' in the ...
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2answers
27 views

Difference in meaning : [duplicate]

These are a defining and a non-defining relative clause :- (A) He deleted the picture that upset me.  (B) He deleted the picture, which upset me. Could you please explain the difference ...
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1answer
64 views

Connective preposition or subordinate conjunction?

I know that a Subordinating Conjunction or a subordinator serves as a marker for the Subordinate Clause : Other children are annoyed because John raises his hand constantly. Here 'because John ...
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1answer
68 views

What is 'but' in “nothing but”?

"It did nothing but make us ridiculous." It means : "It did nothing but It did make us ridiculous." Here, 'but' seems to be a conjunction. But I know, 'but' is a preposition (meaning 'except') in ...
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2answers
29 views

what is the meaning of “Smiling upon”?

what is the meaning of "Smiling upon"? Mr. Somes said: "Mr. President, would it be improper for me to inquire whether there has been any pressure brought to bear upon you to defer the enforcement of ...
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1answer
21 views

Possible ambiguity in “In addition to the 3 main reasons, there is a 4th reason that has not been widely cited”

I am wondering if my sentence is ambiguous. In addition to the three main arguments, there is a fourth argument that, although important, has not been widely cited. The "three main arguments" are ...
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3answers
55 views

Why do people sometimes confuse when to use 'will' and 'would'?

For instance, I've heard quite a lot of people saying that "I would go" when they should be pertaining to use "I will go". Is this because colloquials have perpetuated the language; tainting the ...
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1answer
28 views

what is the meaning of “assert their claims to be considered sane” and “reduced to the limits of ruin”?

what is the meaning of "assert their claims to be considered sane" and "reduced to the limits of ruin"? This has been a long but necessary digression from the account of the early days of ...
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1answer
37 views

what is the meaning of “lie upon the table” here? does “the belief held by the petitioners” means “the petitioners believed that it was a delusion”?

what is the meaning of "lie upon the table" here? does "the belief held by the petitioners" means "the petitioners believed that it was a delusion"? In April, 1854, the Hon. James Shields presented ...
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1answer
47 views

When not “all” neither “some” is stated, what is implied?

For example, in sentence "Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries." is it implied that ALL multinational companies do that, or that SOME ...
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1answer
25 views

does “revolving the disc” caused by “attachments” or “sliding the table”? what is the meaning of “follow” here?

does "revolving the disc" caused by "attachments" or "sliding the table"? what is the meaning of "follow" here? Mr. S. B. Brittan, editor of The Spiritual Telegraph, gives the following condensed ...
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isn't efficient as you claimed

a. This device isn't efficient as you claimed. b. This device isn't efficient**,** as you claimed. Which of the above sentences could be used instead of each of the following: Unlike what you ...
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1answer
37 views

does “town” and “city” are the same place in this context?

does "town" and "city" are the same place in this context? i mean. does the "city" refers to the mentioned "town"? This drives him to the consideration of whether these things may not be ...
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2answers
66 views

Why does the author say the information was “correct” but after that he says “the information was wrong”?

Why does the author say the information was "correct" but after that he says "the information was wrong"? Does it means that the information of the letter was wrong but she spelled them out? What ...
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4answers
1k views

“May” meaning in biblical/religious language

I have learned that in the biblical language, in religion or for prayer "may" is used to express a wishful benediction. As in the following examples: May God bless you. May your children ...
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1answer
27 views

Is there a difference in meanig between “as someone told you to” and “as someone told you”

a. You didn't come home late last night, as your Dad told you to. b. You didn't come home late last night, as your Dad told you. Do these mean: Your Dad told you to come home late last ...
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2answers
56 views

What does this sentence mean? “there are few who would not…”

This is a sentence taken from a textbook on translation: (Original sentence) Aside from abnormally lazy people, there would be very few who would not want to earn more than the minimum. The ...
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Is this reported sentence ambiguous?

A: Are you a politician? B: No, I'm not a politician. When we report the B's reply as: B replied negatively that he was not a politician., is the sentence ambiguous - whether B denied the fact ...
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458 views

“did you attend” or “were you able to attend”, when to use which?

This post is derived from another one/. They might need to merge. Let's say Michael had mentioned that he were trying to reschedule another appointment in order to attend a meeting yesterday. I ...
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1answer
33 views

Confusion in pronoun

What is the best way to avoid confusion of pronouns? For example, see the following sentence: When Anne’s grandmother died she lit an extra candle for her on her birthday. Here it is very ...
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1answer
26 views

How to describe a noun standing before the last word with 'which'?

I have a sentence: "I lived in the southern city of Kazakhstan, which is surrounded by mountains." In this sentence, it looks like that is Kazakhstan is surrounded by mountains. However, I wanted to ...
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1answer
26 views

trace the route

Is "trace the route" in the following ambiguous between a finger-moving action and actual driving, walking, or otherwise moving along a route in the real world? John traced the route on the map. I'...
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41 views

There's no question of something

The banks have made it clear that there's no question of customers losing their credit status in light of the recent mortgage rate scandal. According to the dictionary: there's no question of (...

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