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    #1

    on Monday

    1 I told John I had seen Jerry on Monday.

    Could that sentence mean:
    2 I told John on Monday that I had seen Jerry.

    I think normally '1' would be interpreted as:

    3 I told John that on Monday I had seen Jerry.

    But I am not sure that people always respect the rule according to which the adverbial should be closest to the verb it modifies. I am under the impression that '1' is sometimes used instead of '2'. But maybe I am wrong.

    Gratefully,
    Navi.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: on Monday

    You're right that native speakers sometimes (often) don't "respect the rules" of English. In fact, we don't think about them at all. However, in the context you gave, I would consider "I told John that I had seen Jerry on Monday" would mean "I told John something. I told him that, on Monday, I had seen Jerry". It's possible that someone else could misconstrue the sentence but I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would find it ambiguous (unless it was said to me by a non-native speaker).

    For your third interpretation, I would use and expect only "On Monday, I told John I'd seen Jerry" or "I told John on Monday that I'd seen Jerry". Those statements only give the day on which the telling happened, not the day on which I saw Jerry.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: on Monday

    Thank you very much emsr2d2.

    One more question. Would a comma before 'on Monday' change anything?

    Is this one:

    1 I told John I had seen Jerry, on Monday.

    ambiguous.

    I suppose 'on Monday' has been added as an afterthought. Could one be sure that it modifies 'I had seen Jerry' and not 'I told John'?


    Gratefully,
    Navi.

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    #4

    Re: on Monday

    No, a comma doesn't disambiguate.

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