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    #1

    not like his brother

    Are sentences '1', '2', '3' and '4' ambiguous?


    1-He doesn't play football, like his brother.


    Two possible meanings:
    1a-His brother doesn't play football and neither does he. (Like his brother, he doesn't play football.)
    1b-His brother does play football but he doesn't. (Unlike his brother, he doesn't play football).

    2-He doesn't play football like his brother.

    Two possible meanings:
    2a-He plays football but not in the same manner as his brother.
    2b-He doesn't play football but his brother does.

    3-He isn't kind, like his brother.


    Two possible meanings:
    3a-He isn't kind and his brother isn't either.
    3b-His brother is kind but he isn't.


    4-He isn't kind like his brother.


    Two possible meanings:
    4a-He is kind but not in the manner his brother is kind.
    4b-His brother is kind but he isn't.


    Actually, the more I think about it the more I tend to think that '1' could only mean '1a' and '3' could only mean '3a', but I am not sure. The ones with commas seem unambiguous to me. The ones with commas can be read in two different ways.

    Gratefully,
    Navi.

  1. probus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: not like his brother

    Some may seem less likely because their plausible contexts seem less likely to one. Nevertheless I think they are all correct and plausible. To discriminate the meaning you must rely on context alone if it is text, and context plus intonation if it is speech.
    Last edited by probus; 05-Oct-2015 at 03:34.

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    #3

    Re: not like his brother

    Quote Originally Posted by navi tasan View Post
    The ones with commas seem unambiguous to me. The ones with commas can be read in two different ways.
    This seems to contradict itself. I think the comma, or a pause in speech, do change the meaning, so I don't think there's any intended ambiguity.

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