How did you discover him escaping from the prison?

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stephenlearner

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

A prisoner was trying to escape from the prison, but an officer found that and reported it to the administration.
He was asked, "How did you discover him escaping from the prison?"
Is this question ambiguous? 1. How did you discover it? 2. How did he escape ?
Is that right?

Thank you.
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s unlikely that someone would read that as meaning what means did he use to escape.

    But it’s a rather odd way of asking it anyway. I would expect something like: How did you find out about the escape?
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Is this question ambiguous?
    Yes.

    My first impression (perhaps influenced by the way you worded the background) was that he was asking about the method of escape. What did you find was the method he was using to try and escape?
    But it could also mean How did you find out that he was trying to excape?
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There are two forms of your sentence:
    "How did you discover him ....................escaping from the prison?"
    .......................................[adverbial free modifier, which modifies the whole of the main clause.] = "How did you discover him when he was escaping from the prison?"

    "How did you discover his escaping from the prison?" = "How did you discover it?"
    ...............................[......noun phrase as object.....]
     
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