Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

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1answer
180 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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2answers
83 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
112 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
24 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
69 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
46 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
69 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
13k 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
116 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
70 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
68 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
168 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
92 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, ...
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2answers
47 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
98 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
454 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
20k 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
53 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
95 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?
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1answer
29 views

How do the two examples the author gives support his view about amphiboly?

This is an excerpt from a piece of text talking about ambiguity: Misuse of the word which, or its omission for brevity, both produce many classic examples of amphiboly. (“On the claim form I have ...
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1answer
31 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....
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1answer
56 views

Default meaning of “Korean” (without North/South)

A user sent me an e-mail stating that he/she is Korean, without further details about which Korea. In English, is it the default that Korean means from South Korea? Is it always the case? For extra ...
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1answer
16 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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1answer
21 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 ...
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1answer
68 views

Is the sentence below ambiguous?

I have two sentence: Diurnal fluctuation of temperature exists at the downstream location in River A. Diurnal fluctuations of temperature exists at a location in River B. I combine them into one ...
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1answer
759 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 ...
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0answers
1k views

Ambiguity in “Didn’t do it on purpose”

I was thinking, couldn’t “I didn’t do it on purpose” take on two meanings or be interpreted two ways? 1) The act was unintentional, I did not mean for it to happen. 2) I specifically chose not to do ...
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1answer
26 views

How does this use of “and” differentiate between objects and their properties? [duplicate]

what is the meaning of this sentence: "Gold and silver ornaments are precious." Does it mean that: 'ornaments made of gold and ornaments made of silver are precious' I mean does it refer to two ...
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2answers
26 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
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3answers
126 views

“12-year-old boy changes his mind just two years later” — how old was he at that moment?

I've encountered an article from The Independent: 12-year-old boy who transitioned to female changes his mind just two years later Isn't it ambiguous, how old was he at that moment? Was he 12 when ...
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1answer
226 views

'like' or 'as' is ambiguous to me

Is it possible for native speakers to tell in what way the 'like' is saying things are the same, without the knowledge about the said content? It says: There is no special preposition in English ...
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1answer
446 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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2answers
241 views

Can “on VERBing” be ambiguous?

SOURCE Oxford Learner's dictionary says, in its definition of on: 5 immediately after something On arriving home I discovered they had gone. There was a letter waiting for him on his return. ...
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2answers
4k views

I haven't eaten since yesterday

Is "I haven't eaten since yesterday" ambiguous? Does it mean I haven't eaten from yesterday until now (i.e. I didn't eat anything yesterday and I haven't eaten anything ever since), or I haven't ...
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2answers
812 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 ...
6
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1answer
368 views

How to use “since” to imply “from the time that”, not “because of”? Can tense itself have a role?

Consider: Since he left the group, we have worked harder to cover his absence. Since he left the group, we work harder to cover his absence. Since he left the group, we worked harder to ...
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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.
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2answers
4k views

“The best outcome for Spain…” Is there any ambiguity as to the meaning of this phrase?

Consider this sentence: "The best outcome for Spain would be to permit the referendum, and for Catalan voters to reject independence" (Source, In the last paragraph) Would this mean that the best ...
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2answers
66 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
95 views

Why isn't there an article in “separated by empty space”?

Matter is composed of atoms separated by empty space through which the atoms move... Why isn't there an article before the words "empty space"?
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1answer
69 views

Why is the prefix repeated in brackets in the word “((meta-)meta-)meta-design”?

While reading an article about web design, I came across the following phrase — "((meta-)meta-)meta-design systems". I'm well aware what meta-design is, but have problems understanding the usage of "(...
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1answer
25 views

talked to him in a bad mood

a. Have you ever talked to John in a bad mood? b. Have you ever talked to him in a bad mood? Can we tell who is in a bad mood, you or John/him?
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2answers
51 views

the painting in the living room

a. He painted the painting in the living room. Does this mean a1. In the living room, he painted that painting. Maybe it is somewhere else now. or a2. He painted the painting that is in the living ...
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3answers
399 views

Is it necessary for “which” to indicate the word before it?

1) Puche restored IGF-I circulating levels, which normally decline in serum with age, in aging rats. 2) Puche restored IGF-I circulating levels in aging rats, which normally decline in serum ...
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2answers
644 views

Do you count the current one?

For example, if I had 3 girlfriends before, and now I have 4th one that I am dating and somebody would ask: How many girlfriends did you have / have you gotten? Would it be correct to count in the ...
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2answers
2k views

How to avoid ambiguity in the sentence“This is a little used car”?

Here’s a sentence which is open to two interpretations and therefore can’t be grammatical: “This is a little used car”. To avoid the ambiguity of the meaning, would it be enough just to insert a ...
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2answers
992 views

What is the role of “the” in “She does homework in the evening”?

This is from an English textbook for children (private pdf file, so I cannot share the link). A: What does Carley do in the evening? B: She does homework in the evening. What is the role of "...
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1answer
35 views

Yeti with a microphone

We started interviewing a Yeti with a microphone. How do we ensure that we mean the picture on the right and not on the left? And how would we describe this one? Edit, from the comments: ...
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1answer
77 views

How do I identify whether the word “quite” is used in the sense of completely or partly?

I've found that word "quite" is used sometimes in the sense of "greatest extent" (or say absolute or complete sense) and sometimes "moderate extent" (or say somewhat or little sense) and taking the ...