1. ## disturb

If something is disturbed, its position or shape is changed.
He'd placed his notes in the brown envelope. They hadn't been disturbed...
Collins Cobuild

Does that mean the envelope was not unsealed and the notes weren't taken out
or
the notes just didn't move inside the sealed envelope?
Thanks.

2. ## Re: disturb

Since we don't know whether he sealed the envelope in the first place, it's impossible to say whether or not it remained unsealed or remained sealed. All we know is that he put the notes in an envelope and at a later (unspecified) time, it appeared that no-one had touched them.

3. ## Re: disturb

Originally Posted by emsr2d2
Since we don't know whether he sealed the envelope in the first place, it's impossible to say whether or not it remained unsealed or remained sealed. All we know is that he put the notes in an envelope and at a later (unspecified) time, it appeared that no-one had touched them.
Imagine the notes are much smaller than the envelope and they are in the top right side of the envelope. The definition says about the changing of a position. So, that means that the notes remained in the top right side? Didn't move to the center of the envelope, or to the bottom left side?

4. ## Re: disturb

No matter how carefully you put notes inside an envelope, if there is any spare space inside the envelope, the chances are that the papers will move around, especially if the owner of the notes/envelope picks it up to open it to check if the papers have moved! I find the original sentences rather unnatural (not grammatically). I suppose that if you slid papers into an envelope while it was flat on the table, didn't seal it and then came back later and peered into the envelope very carefully whilst leaving the envelope flat on the table, you might be able to satisfy yourself that they hadn't been moved. Even then, if someone were determined to read the notes, they could take them out of the envelope and replace them in exactly the same position in the envelope, making it appear that they had not been touched.

I still maintain it's not possible to answer the questions you asked in post #1 because we don't know whether the envelope was sealed or unsealed in the first place.

5. ## Re: disturb

I was not completely clear in #1, I shouldn't have mentioned the word 'sealed', but just said "didn't move within the envelope".
What I meant was -- if we look at your example with someone taking the notes out of the envelope and replacing them in exactly the same position, we can say that the notes had not been disturbed, since their position didn't change (as it appears, at least). It doesn't matter that someone had taken them out. What matters is that s/he managed to put them exactly in the same position. Is this right?

6. ## Re: disturb

No. If that had happened the notes were definitely disturbed.

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