1. ## Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with slight pressure on the brake pedal or front brake lever.

A detailed breakdown of the different parts would be great. Thanks!

2. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

The very smallest movement of the brake should make the light turn on. If the light does not turn on, reject the vehicle.

3. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

Yes but do you reject the vehicle if only one lever or pedal activates the light, or do you reject it if neither the pedal nor the lever activates the light?

4. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

Originally Posted by jasoncooke1
Yes but do you reject the vehicle if only one lever or pedal activates the light, or do you reject it if neither the pedal nor the lever activates the light?
That can't be determined from the grammar. The context suggests that, if the vehicle is faulty in any way, it should be rejected.

It could be fixed with 'and' rather than 'or', or:
Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with slight pressure on both the brake pedal and/or front brake lever.
But with both these corrections there would be a potential ambiguity about whether you had to press both the pedal and lever at the same time.

Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with:
- slight pressure on the brake pedal
- slight pressure on the front brake lever.

or even less ambiguous:
Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with slight pressure on the brake pedal.
Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with slight pressure on the front brake lever.

I'll leave a grammatically unambiguous and elegant sentence as an exercise for someone else!

5. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

If I had a brake light (which is what I assume this is talking about), I would expect it to work if I activated the pedal or level. It would be a reject if either one of those failed to light the light.

6. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

Originally Posted by SoothingDave
If I had a brake light (which is what I assume this is talking about), I would expect it to work if I activated the pedal or level. It would be a reject if either one of those failed to light the light.

But on a motorcycle, proper braking involves both the front and rear brakes being applied simultaneously. Why have two switches activating the same brake light if both will be used simultaneously? My question is not about what is expected. We can get into detail if you have any interest in talking about motorcycles, but my question is: According to the rules, regulations, laws, guidelines, and boundaries of proper grammar in the English language, what EXACTLY does that sentence say? What exactly is the requirement that that sentence is describing? I'm not looking for an assumption based on what you know about motorcycles, or the laws in your state, or anything like that. I just want to know exactly what the sentence says.

Raymott has the best answer so far.. Thanks for the help

7. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

Are we talking about motorcycles here?

If it's about cars, the brake light only comes on when the brake pedal is depressed, not the handbrake.

Rover

8. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

But on a motorcycle, proper braking involves both the front and rear brakes being applied simultaneously. Why have two switches activating the same brake light if both will be used simultaneously?
I can think of at least two reasons. One, I wouldn't want a safety system to depend on the user doing things correctly.

Two, you have redundancy built into the system. If one switch fails, the other will still light the light and warn other drivers.
According to the rules, regulations, laws, guidelines, and boundaries of proper grammar in the English language, what EXACTLY does that sentence say?
It says "or." "Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with slight pressure on the brake pedal or front brake lever." They both have to work, or it is rejected.

Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with slight pressure on the brake pedal.

OR

Reject vehicle if the stop lamp does not go on with slight pressure on the front brake lever.

9. ## Re: Help me analyze this sentence! Please!

Originally Posted by jasoncooke1
I just want to know exactly what the sentence says.
It doesn't say exactly anything. That is what the concept of ambiguity in grammar means. If a sentence can be interpreted in more than one way, we call it ambiguous. As I say, grammatical analysis cannot decide on the meaning of that sentence.

Here's another example:
"Have you had improper relations with a sheep or a horse?"
There are two interpretations: 1) You can answer either 'yes' or 'no'. 2) You have to answer "a sheep" or "a horse".
No amount of analysis of this sentence will tell you whether it means 1 or 2. And it's not the lack of talent of the people here, or the lack of a willingness to go into depth about the grammar. The sentence is inherently ambiguous. It does not have one exact meaning - apart from the context (which is absent here), or the meaning given by the intonation with which it is spoken (which is also absent in a written sentence).

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