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some of his friends Options
azz
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 5:29:28 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/15/2014
Posts: 364
Neurons: 3,918
a. Some of his friends, who don't like me, wrote that letter.

Is that sentence ambiguous?

1. His friends don't like me. Some of his friends wrote that letter.
2. Some of his friends wrote that letter. The people who wrote that letter don't like me. (maybe he has other friends who don't like me and maybe he doesn't)

I think both meanings are possible, but (2) is more likely.

Many thanks.
Romany
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 6:09:50 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,703
Neurons: 57,358
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Azz,

Yes, I expect it COULD be labelled ambiguous - but actually...in this case...it doesn't really matter.

The point of the sentence is that some people who don't like you sent you a letter - from which we gather it was not a friendly letter.

Whether all of his friends, or only some of his friends don't like you is immaterial: the letter came from some people who don't like you. Those people are friends of his.
azz
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 7:08:04 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/15/2014
Posts: 364
Neurons: 3,918
Thank you so much Romany!

Yes. I get it. I just wanted to see how the comma changes things.

b. Some of his friends who don't like me wrote that letter.


I think this one is unambiguously saying that he has friends don't like and friends who do like me and some of those belonging to the first group wrote the letter.

Am I correct?

Many thanks.
Audiendus
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 8:03:04 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/24/2011
Posts: 6,712
Neurons: 1,280,133
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
azz wrote:

b. Some of his friends who don't like me wrote that letter.


I think this one is unambiguously saying that he has friends don't like and friends who do like me and some of those belonging to the first group wrote the letter.

Am I correct?

Without the commas, I would take it to mean:

Among his friends there is a group who do not like me, and some (but not all) of that group wrote the letter.
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