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Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

1
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1answer
33 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 ...
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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 ...
0
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1answer
43 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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1answer
51 views

Degree of horror for several verbs

Could someone please sort the level of each of these verbs in the degree of horror? appal, dismay, horrify, shock, startle
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1answer
25 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
142 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 ...
1
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2answers
81 views

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, ...
0
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1answer
25 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 "...
1
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1answer
388 views

True False NotGiven questions

I have a some True False NotGiven questions that I had a hard time figuring the answers. In this sort of question, we must read a passage and then choose whether some information is true, false, or ...
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11answers
6k views

Free as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer. — Richard Stallman Translating free to my language (...
1
vote
1answer
603 views

think I can do anything

a. I don't think I can do anything you want. Can't this sentence mean two things? a1. I think I can't do anything you want. a2. I don't think I can't do just anything you want. b. You're mistaken ...
1
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2answers
769 views

Meaning of “would have had”?

I saw an ad regarding a job opportunity, where the following line was written: Typically, you would have had 3+years of experience building software products. Does it mean that the candidate ...
0
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1answer
13 views

Interpretation ambiguity

While reading the article, I am quite confused about the part bolded "whether fallen or not". I believe there might be two possible answers: 1: I did not stop to think whether the whirring cicadas ...
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3answers
20 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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2answers
47 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 ...
0
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3answers
38 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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1answer
18 views

a high turnover (rate)

The word turnover at least has two meanings in the dictionary. Without context, is the following sentence ambiguous? The company has a high turnover. Supposing it's ambiguous, if the word rate is ...
1
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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 ...
0
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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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2answers
25 views

How to interpret “5 weeks into my degree”?

I was wondering whether it meant: I started my degree 5 weeks ago I finished my degree 5 weeks ago (I found this in an online dictionary) I will be finishing my degree in 5 weeks
0
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1answer
27 views

any of the assignments

a. If you haven't done any of the assignments, I can give you extra time to do them. Can this sentence mean two things? If you have done none of the assignments, I can give you extra time to do them....
0
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3answers
179 views

What does the phrase “minimum of introspection or self-analysis” mean in this sentence?

"These situations are best resolved with the minimum of introspection or self-analysis." This is where I found it: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/introspection Does it ...
0
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1answer
36 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.
2
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2answers
49 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 ...
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2answers
53 views

Repeated continuous action using simple present or present continuous

What is the difference between the meaning of the following two sentences. (One is simple present and the other is continuous present). He works every Saturday. He is working every Saturday.
2
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2answers
33 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
36 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
277 views

Question about Harvey's quote

"Nothing that happens on the surface of the sea can alter the calm of its depths" Whenever I see this quote,I always enter into an ambiguity, I tend to interpret that quote with two different ...
2
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2answers
336 views

Ambiguous meaning of “his murder”

Can "his murder" mean two different things? The murder of a male person (him) A man's crime, e.g His murder of someone
0
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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 ...
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 ...
3
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2answers
294 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 ...
0
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1answer
31 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
vote
1answer
108 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
64 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
138 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 ...
22
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6answers
98k views

Is “until” inclusive or exclusive?

I sent an email to someone and got an auto-reply saying: I am out of the office until 09/15/2014. Does this mean he will be available on the morning of the 15th?
0
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1answer
48 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. ...
5
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1answer
53 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 ...
1
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3answers
240 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
41 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 ...
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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 ...
1
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3answers
78 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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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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2answers
744 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
59 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
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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
79 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 ...
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0answers
66 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 ...