[Ambiguity] I'll tell you if it's over by then

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Messquito

Senior Member
Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
The other day, one of my friends asked me out for dinner at 5:40. I told her, "I have a group work to do around that time. I'll tell you if it's over by then."
So I left for the group work and it wasn't finished until 6:50. I had been too absorbed to notice my cell phone vibrating at 6:10 in my bag.
She left me a message, "You didn't answer my call and didn't even bother texting me!"
I responded, "I said, 'I have a group work to do around that time. I'll tell you if it's over by then,' didn't I?"
"You said 'by then', but you didn't call me or message me by 5:40."
"I said 'if' it was over, it wasn't over by 5:40!"

I feel like there is a misunderstanding here; does this sentence seem ambiguous to you?
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It's not really ambiguous. She obviously wanted to hear from you and the problem lies in her expectation rather than what you actually said.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    The other day, one of my friends asked me out for dinner at 5:40. I told her, "I have a group work to do around that time. I'll tell you if it's over by then."
    I don't think it's actually ambiguous, but I suspect she was interpreting it to mean "I'll tell you by then if [= whether or not] it's over". :)
     
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