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a fresh can of tennis balls / a can of fresh tennis balls

Discussion in 'English Only' started by wanabee, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. wanabee Senior Member

    Japanese
    Dear all,

    (On the tennis court)
    Could you bring me a fresh can of tennis balls?
    Could you bring me a can of fresh tennis balls?

    I made up the sentences.
    I'm wondering if there's any difference in meaning between the two above.

    I would appreciate any comments.
     
  2. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    A fresh can of tennis balls - the can is fresh, we know nothing about the balls in it
    A can of fresh tennis balls - the balls are fresh, we know nothing about the can
     
  3. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    It's been a while since I've played tennis, but in casual, on-court language, I would say they both mean the same thing and I would be inclined to say the first one, despite part of me agreeing with boozer.
     
  4. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    :D I suspect that would be that part that tends to see things literally.
     
  5. Codyfied Senior Member

    Similar to the phrase "fresh cup of coffee" / "cup of fresh coffee" [The cup may be old but either way the coffee is fresh.]

    So, both phrases mean the same to me in casual conversation, also.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  6. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Just to mention that there never was any doubt in my mind that they are meant to mean the same. Who cares about the balls' age? :) I was just focusing on what the string of words actually says. There are similar examples that do not mean the same to me:
    a fresh glass of juice --> a new glass of juice, I may have drunk several already
    a glass of fresh juice --> the juice must be fresh, I may have drunk or been offered a couple of glasses of old sour juice
     
  7. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Like Boozer, I think some people seem to be forgetting that a fresh can might easily mean a new (ie. different) can.

    It doesn't necessarily mean that it's new in the sense of coming shining off the production line.

    You could even have a fresh can which was one on several old cans in store.

    Fresh would have that meaning for me less readily for the balls inside the can, for some reason.

    In other words, I think the cans of tennis balls might behave like Boozer's glasses of juice.
     
  8. MikeNewYork

    MikeNewYork Senior Member

    New York, New York, USA
    English-American
    The performance of a tennis ball depends on its internal pressure. This provides the springiness and the bounce. When tennis balls are packed they are packed in a pressure pack. This limits the leaking of internal pressure. Once a can is opened, the balls are surrounded by the lower ambient atmospheric pressure. Over time, the balls lose much of their action. Old tennis balls work better as toys for Labrador Retrievers.

    With that in mind, both of your sentences convey the same meaning, but I think the first would be more common.
     
  9. wanabee Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you very much, boozer, Copyright, Codyfied, Thomas, and Mike!
     

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