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  1. Newbie
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    Sentences Containing Numbers

    Hi all,

    I've been rather confused with the interpretation of sentences containing numbers in general, and would greatly appreciate your inputs vis-a-vis the following queries:

    Sentence 1: John owns 10 houses in Australia AND New Zealand.

    In the first place, is this sentence correct? I see similiar ones in newspapers and journals quite often.

    The common interpretation (I gather) is that John owns 10 houses, some in Australia and some in NZ. However, if this is the case, shouldn't the word OR be used instead of AND?

    Sentence 2: There were changes in the variables X and Y.

    Does this sentence include the possibility that there was ONE change in X and ONE change in Y? Or does it mean that there is more than one change each in X and Y?

    Sentence 3: There are 28 students in the Math and Science classes.

    Similiar to my first question. Does this mean that there are 28 students in both the math and science class? Or that there are some in the math class, and some others in the science class, but not in both?

    Question 4: The students in the class come from China or Japan. As opposed to: The two students in the class come from China or Japan.

    I interpret the former sentence to mean that there are some students in the class who come from China, and some who come from Japan.

    With the inclusion of the word "two" in the latter sentence , does the interpretation of the sentence become : "either both the students come from China, or both come from Japan"?

    The inclusion of "two" seems to imply that we are referring to two particular students, as "a group".

    Thanks in advance!

  2. English Freak's Avatar
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    Re: Sentences Containing Numbers

    Sentence 1: "or" can't be correct in this context. Because you aren't considering the different possibilities. If you say "... in Australia or New Zealand", you mean either in Australia or in New Zealand. We use "and" when we want to join words or parts of a sentence.

    Sentence 2: I think the context is not enough to judge it. But I think it implies there were some changes.

    Sentence 3: You know, I think this sentence is ambiguous. But there are simple ways to make them clear. For example you could say there are 28 students in the Math and Science classes altogether. It means the total number of students in both classes is 28. Or you could say there are 28 students in the Math and Science classes each. It means the there are 28 students in Math class and 28 in Science class.

    Sentence 4: Again because of using "or", you are mentioning a possibilty that they might be from China or they might be from Japan. To make it clear, it's best to say the twostudents in the class come from either China or Japan.

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