[Grammar] They discovered during the investigation that some money was missing.

nininaz

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Hi all,

Original: They discovered during the investigation that some money was missing.

Do the following make sense as well? Will this swapping make any changes in the meaning?

They discovered that some money was missing during the investigation.

They discovered that during the investigation some money was missing.
 

Phaedrus

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Will this swapping make any changes in the meaning?

The third example definitely has a different meaning from the first. The second is ambiguous. Can you guess what the two different meanings are? They are quite distinct.
 

nininaz

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Can you guess what the two different meanings are? They are quite distinct.

Unfortunately I couldn't guess what the differences were. They all sounded the same to me.
 

GoesStation

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The question is, when was the money missing? If it was only missing during the investigation then sentence 3 is correct.
 

Phaedrus

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Unfortunately I couldn't guess what the differences were.

Do you understand the difference between these two sentences, Nininaz?

(a) What they discovered during the investigation was that some money was missing.
(b) What they discovered was that some money was missing during the investigation.

Meaning (a) unambiguously applies to your first example, and meaning (b) unambiguously applies to the third. Which meaning applies to your second example hinges on whether "during the investigation" modifies "was missing" or "discovered," i.e., on whether "during the investigation" is part of the "that"-clause complementing "discovered" or part of the main clause. Notice what the brackets below are bracketing:

(2a) They discovered [that some money was missing] during the investigation.
(2b) They discovered [that some money was missing during the investigation].

That's why I said your second example was ambiguous. Your first example unambiguously conveys meaning (a), and your third sentence unambiguously conveys meaning (b). You could also place "during the investigation" at the front of the sentence. If you did, the sentence would, as in your first example, unambiguously convey meaning (a):

(4) During the investigation, they discovered that some money was missing.
 

nininaz

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It was such comprehensive explanations. I greatly appreciate it. Now I have fully understood it. Thanks so much.
 
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