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    #1

    five men were sent

    1) Five men were sent to Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

    Would that mean:
    a) Five men were sent to Boston, Los Angeles and New York each.
    or
    b) Altogether, five men were sent to Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

    Gratefully,
    Navi.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: five men were sent

    Impossible to say.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: five men were sent

    Are you sure you don't know the answers to many of these questions already, navi tasan?

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    #4

    Re: five men were sent

    Thank you very much BarbD and Raymott,

    My questions seem similar, but to me they are different. I generally have a vague idea what the answer is, but I am not sure. There are times when the other languages I know overshadow my knowledge of English. In this case for instance, I think in my own language, the first sentence would mean 'b'.

    I have a tendency to doubt a lot. I am never sure of what I know.... I think I am that way... I mean, in some cases, maybe... no... yes... maybe...

    Respectfully and gratefully,
    Navi.

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    #5

    Re: five men were sent

    It is not clear in your sentence whether the five men travelled together, in groups or individually unless you make it clear. You could say:

    Five men were sent together to Boston, Los Angeles and New York.
    Five men were sent individually to Boston, Los Angeles and New York.
    Five men were sent in two groups of two and three, to Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

    By the way, why do need to state your name at the bottom of every post?
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 25-Jul-2016 at 10:32. Reason: Fixed typo
    I am not a teacher.

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    #6

    Re: five men were sent

    Thank you very much Tedmc,

    It is a habit I have.

    Respectfully,
    Navi.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: five men were sent

    I understand that it's a habit you have got into but there is really no need to put your name at the end of each post, nor for you to use "gratefully/respectfully" etc. If you dispense with those unnecessary endings, it will save you time and it will also save space on each thread. The shorter we can keep threads the better.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: five men were sent

    Navi, sometimes you spend time worry about things that you have no need to worry about. Sentences always occur in a context.

    And when it's not clear, we can always ask.

    Did all five go to each city?
    Which of them went to which city?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #9

    Re: five men were sent

    I'm with you, Barb. Finding potentially ambiguous sentences to pick apart may be amusing, but it's kind of a pointless exercise. Writers of English do sometimes turn out ambiguous texts. It's important to be able to spot ambiguity there and in one's own writing. But I don't see the point of writing ambiguous sentences just for the sake of discussion.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: five men were sent

    I saw a sentence the other day where I genuinely wasn't sure if it was a misplaced metaphor.
    As a surgeon, I find Ben Carson... (etc.)

    I wasn't sure if the person what talking about what the thought about Ben Carson in relation to Carson's being a surgeon (misplaced) or if the person was a surgeon and it was used correctly.

    It was one of the first times I've seen a potentially misplaced modifier that would have created ambiguity. (Unlike "Hanging in the closet for a year, Lola had forgotten about her aqua dress" where we clearly know it was the dress and not Lola that had been hanging and although there is poor grammar there is no confusion.)

    Aside from those rare situations, there aren't that many real examples of genuine confusion, and when they exist, we have no problem asking for clarification.

    (Oh, and the writer was a surgeon and had used it correctly, but I had to keep reading to realize he was indeed a surgeon.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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