Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

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The meaning of more than in mathematics

In a mathematical question it is stated as follows. On Monday I sold 15 cows and today 5 more than on Monday. How many did I sell today? The question is one of ambiguity. Does 5 more refer to a ...
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169 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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479 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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259 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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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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52 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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57 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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26 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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728 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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103 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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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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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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340 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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115 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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22 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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74 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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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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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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48 views

How to differentiate between a singular noun’s possession and its plural one in spoken English

In spoken English if for example: someone says “cars tires” then how to know if the speaker is talking about car’s tires or cars’ tires. Because the pronunciation is same for both.
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“Prior to the 1980s” does it include the 1980s or not?

High pollution was observed prior to the 1980s. Which period does 'Prior to the 1980s' refer to, 1)include, 2)partially include, 3)exclude the period of the 1980s?
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49 views

He is getting to be a naughty boy

When "get" is followed by an infinitive, it means "manage" or "have an opportunity". He is getting to be a naughty boy. It means "he manages to be a naughty boy" or "he has an opportunity to be ...
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1answer
19 views

“is written” (single or habitual action, tense choice)

Let's consider the sentence containing the phrase "is written": How this word is written? Does this phrase mean Single action: a concrete situation, how the word was written once by someone? ...
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1answer
40 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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50 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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162 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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80 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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62 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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29k 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
73 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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82 views

Confirming something and at the same time expressing your previous lack of knowledge

Someone informs me: I think it's going to rain. I check the weather Service and I find the forecast includes rain. I want to share this additional information with the person who informed me. I ...
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210 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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183 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 problem at home, ...
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346 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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84 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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35 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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1answer
66 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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206 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
34 views

In this comparison, how, according to the writer, does Latin relate to French rap?

The Arabic of “Frozen” is frozen in time, as “localized” to contemporary Middle Eastern youth culture as Latin quatrains in French rap. — Translating “Frozen” Into Arabic by Elias Muhanna Please ...
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15 views

employed 20 workers last week

I am not sure if "to employ" means "to have someone on the payroll" or "to put someone on the payroll." Is it ambiguous? Consider the following sentence: The company ...
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1answer
30 views

twice I married a French woman

a. Twice, I almost married a French woman. b. I almost married a French woman twice. Do those imply that it was the same woman? Do those imply that I married a French woman once and almost had a ...
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1answer
23 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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1answer
76 views

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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42 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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18 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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70 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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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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38 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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282 views

on both sides/on the two sides

a. The conflict claimed about two hundred lives on all sides. b. The conflict claimed about two hundred lives on the three sides. Do those mean all in all there were two hundred lives lost or ...
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29 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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