Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

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64 views

ambiguity about a human or a window

The following day, as twilight was falling, she stood at the window overlooking the Yard. Would you tell me if this sentence has an ambiguity? I think it does. Is she overlooking, or is the window ...
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224 views

Are the words “harmless” and “interests” ambiguous in this context? [closed]

Lysander is harmless enough. We keep each other company with our mutual interests, yet I don't think he could handle the enormity of our present situation. Source: Diablo 2, Drognan (sells magic ...
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71 views

If you “ride something”, do you control it or simply sit behind/aside?

I remember my friend telling that she rides a bus to go to her office. I also remember my another friend telling that she rides a scooter to go to her office. Does it mean that I need to identify ...
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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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114 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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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, ...
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605 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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1answer
391 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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79 views

meaning of “I don't love one human being more than another human being”

What does the below sentence mean?: "I don't love one human being more than another human being" Does the above sentence mean: 1: "I don't love one human being more than how much I love another ...
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1answer
132 views

defeated could arises ambiguity in a sentence

Could you think of a sentence where the word defeat or defeated makes an ambiguity?-- that's a situation which you couldn't get whether the word defeated means winning or not? Please feel free to ask ...
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138 views

Another “Deviate” Question

I have yet another question about the verb "deviate". Suppose there is a plan, and part of the plan includes uttering the prepared text "do no evil". If I write the following sentence: He ...
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120 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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20 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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52 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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2answers
87 views

Does this have multiple meanings?

Why does she sing her sad songs for me, I'm not the one To tenderly bring her soft sympathy I've just begun To see my way clear and it's plain, if I stop I will fall I can lay down a tear for ...
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155 views

Antecedent of 'whose' in 'to whose extent'? (1834 UK)

Source: p 377, A Treatise on Astronomy, by Sir John F. W. Herschel ... But between that remotest orb and the nearest star there is a gulf fixed, to whose extent no observations yet made have ...
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330 views

Is “They always hurt her” present or past?

could someone in that sentence " they always hurt her "...how to know that it's past or present...? if we assumed that the sentence is in present can be rewritten in passive voice such as " She ...
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2answers
238 views

Does “came out of X” mean “emerged from X” or “came here from X”?

   "Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. Some say he's still out there, bidin' his time, like, but I don' believe it. People who ...
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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
53 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. ...
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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
437 views

'Shot' or 'Filmed' to overcome its ambiguity?

I thought of a sentence - Back then, Mr. Anderson was shot by a journalist when he was misbehaving with a woman. The surprise is that I am talking about 'shot' with a camera and not a gun! The ...
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99 views

whats does “requires consideration of encounters and power” mean?

as Nanda maintains, ‘Deconstructing central structural concepts in American society such as race, gender, religion, and ethnicity is an essential component of teaching cultural anthropology as ...
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4answers
40 views

Reducing ambiguity in a description that might apply to one or two nouns in a list

The state and local governments must take into account characteristics of family members and family types in coming up with the policies. In the way it is expressed right now, there is no way to ...
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69 views

Does 'appear' have an object here? - 1932 US?

Source: Powell v Alabama (1932) It thus will be seen that, until the very morning of the trial, no lawyer had been named or definitely designated to represent the defendants. Prior to that time,...
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254 views

avoid ambiguity of Too keen to

"I can be keen to do something, and i can be too keen. If I am too keen to do something, am i overly keen to do something, or so keen that i am not able to do something?" Is it hopelessly ambiguous ...
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109 views

Ambiguous to-infinitive: “Obama rejects G20 pressure to abandon Syria air strike plan.”

Obama rejects G20 pressure to abandon Syria air strike plan. I think this news headline is ambiguous because the infinitive clause could attach to either G20's pressure as its complement(?), or to ...
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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 "...
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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 ...
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60 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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63 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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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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13k 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
50 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
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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3answers
204 views

same content, different meaning? (with + subject + adjective (participle)" construction)

Other studies, including in the United States, have shown this same pattern, with girls who begin developing earlier than their peers vulnerable to depression in adolescence. Without context, are ...
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177 views

I don't remember me having a problem at home. what does this imply?

Here's the sentence that I get mixed up. Q: Tell me about a problem you had at home. A: I don't remember me having a problem at home. I'd like to know what it implies. a. I had a ...
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289 views

Ambiguous use of modal verb 'would'?

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shall_and_will#As_past_of_shall_and_will ♦ He left Bath in 1890, and would never return. ♦ (in fact he never returned after that) Seeing as this sentence is ...
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72 views

Why is this choice for a definition of a “civil society” the least controversial one? [closed]

Passage: p 154, Mastering the National Admissions Test for Law by Mark Shepherd = Consider only 'The civil society puzzle' & only the 1st para under 'Civil society – gaining some clarity'. ...
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32 views

Which can be gathered most likely to be encountered? - Test 3, Q25, by Mark Shepherd [closed]

From Mastering the National Admissions Test for Law by Mark Shepherd, page 144, last para: ...Second is the idea that the experience of long- term unemployment may be less stigmatising, and hence ...
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63 views

Which most closely reflects the author’s view of the strategic plan? - Test 3, Q11, p 137, by Mark Shepherd

The following only involves certain paragraphs here: everything under the heading The Challenge (but nothing aout the picture) and the first two paragraphs under The Enterprise. See question 11 here. ...
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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 ...
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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
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 ...
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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. ...
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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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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. (= ? ...
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65 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
103 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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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 ...