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Monday, September 12, 2011

Poll Results 150

Here was the question:

How many people are in the picture described in this sentence? "I am looking at a photograph of Dominic and Rowan's mother."

28 (46%)
14 (23%)
It could be one or two.
18 (30%)

Thanks to a reader for asking me this question. He correctly noted that the sentence is ambiguous, so congratulations to 30% of you. The photo could be of a man, Dominic, and a woman, Rowan's mother. Or, the photo could be of one person, a woman, who is the mother of both Dominic and Rowan. When you share the noun, you share the apostrophe, so if the woman is the mother of both boys/men, you need only one apostrophe.

To make certain this was not ambiguous, you would have to rewrite the sentence.


ChildsPlay said...

I am looking at a photograph of the mother of Dominic and Rowan.


I am looking at a photograph of Dominic with Rowan's mother.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Those work for me.

Westley said...

Swapping the order around tends to fix a lot of things...or reveal even more issues.