Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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

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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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1answer
71 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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1answer
327 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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2answers
113 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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2answers
25 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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19 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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2answers
42 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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1answer
46 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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51 views

“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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1answer
48 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
37 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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2answers
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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2answers
133 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
73 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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60 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
27k 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
59 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
209 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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1answer
181 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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1answer
315 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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83 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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1answer
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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3answers
197 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

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
74 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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2answers
40 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
12 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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1answer
42 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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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
36 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
235 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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1answer
25 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
33 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
118 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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1answer
67 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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1answer
56 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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3answers
73 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
224 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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1answer
70 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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1answer
17 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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2answers
67 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
34 views

thinking about a robot for/to

Are these sentences correct: 1) I am thinking about a car for driving to work. 2) I am thinking about a car to drive to work in. 3) I am thinking about a robot for cleaning the house. 4) I am ...
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1answer
109 views

Does this sentence make it seem like my grandparents are part of Porbandar?

I have to make the following sentence less ambiguous I stay with my family in a small house in Porbandar which includes my grandparents. My attempt is: I stay with my family which includes my ...
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1answer
386 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 ...
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1answer
545 views

Distinguishing between although and while

What are some circumstances in which "although" and "while" are semantically interchangeable? When are they not?
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1answer
40 views

Understanding the CC-BY-ND summary

In the CC-BY-ND human readable summary, there is the sentence Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license , and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any ...