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    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    1-I fought him with his friends.

    Were his friends on my side or on his side in the fight? Isn't the sentence ambiguous?

    2-We fought him alone.

    Were we alone or was he alone?

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    Default Re: with

    • 1-I fought him with his friends. (Isn't the sentence ambiguous?)


    Yes. It's as ambiguous as,

    Sam hit the man with the cane.

    There are two meanings:
    a) Did Sam have the cane?
    b) Did the man have the cane?

    Sam hit the man carrying the cane. (The man has the cane)
    Sam hit the man over the head with the cane. (Sam has the cane)

    • 2-We fought him alone.


    There are two meanings:
    a) Did we fight by ourselves, without the help of others?
    b) Did we fight only him?

    c) We fought him while he was alone.
    d) We fought him alone (meaning c) = ungrammatical)

    :D

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    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: with

    1-I fought him with his friends.

    Were his friends on my side or on his side in the fight? Isn't the sentence ambiguous? |
    It's the kind of sentence that makes the reader pause, scratch his head, guess at the meaning, and hope he is right.

    It is unlikely that his friends would be helping you fight him. Better would be "I fought him and his friends."


    2-We fought him alone.

    Were we alone or was he alone?
    That sentence has a similar construction to "We did it alone" or "We were there alone". Unfortunately, throwing "him" in the mix confuses things. Better would be "We fought him without any help."

    What do you think?

    :)

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    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default

    Thanks for your replies, Casiopea and RonBee.
    (I suppose that you realized the guest with the "heavy" sentences was me, but for some reason I got logged out).

    I quite agree that I try to look for the meanings of sentences which are not natural, but I rarely use such sentences (at least I try not to).

    Indeed, I find your suggestions much better. However sometimes, in books, I do come across sentences which are even heavier than the ones I make up. I think understanding how language works in these convoluted sentences does give me a better grasp of English.
    Thanks again.

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    There are three kinds of sentences.

    • 1. Some sentences are always grammatical. "Bob is a man" is a grammatical sentence. It is a grammatical sentence in any context. (It might not always make sense, but it will still be grammatical.)
      2. There are some sentences that appear to be ungrammatical, but in the proper context they make perfect sense and are, indeed, grammatical.
      3. Some sentences are never grammatical. They may be composed of English words, but they are not English sentences. The list of such sentences would, of course, be endless.


    Logic is more important than grammar.

    • A non sequitur is a sentence that does not make sense because it does not logically follow the sentence that came before it. If I were to say, "It is sunny out now, but if might rain later. My shirt is green" the sentence My shirt is green would be a non sequitur because it does not logically follow what came before. (I hope that was a good example. I came up with it off the top of my head.) The sentence is nonsensical not because it is ungrammatical but because it appears in the wrong context.


    Context is essential to meaning, which is essential to understanding.

    • The context a sentence appears in gives it its meaning, just as the context a word appears in gives it its meaning. Neither can be truly understood outside its context.




    :D

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