My friends, Mary, Jill and Alice, invited me...

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Karen123456

Senior Member
Malaysia English
My friends, Mary, Jill and Alice, invited me to go shopping with them.

1. Does the above sentence mean Mary, Jill and Alice (my friends) invited me to go shopping with them?

OR

2. Does it mean that my friends
and Mary, Jill and Alice invited me to go shopping?

I want to express what is stated in #1.

If it is wrongly phrased, could you let me know what the correct sentence should be?

Thanks.
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Technically, it is slightly ambiguous, but in general it would be taken to have your first meaning. Omitting the comma after "friends" would help.
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    There could be an ambiguity, but removing the first comma would help:

    My friends Mary, Jill and Alice....

    since 'friends' is not part of the list, it is an overall description of what/who the list will contain.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, the commas should not be omitted; "Mary, Jill and Alice" is a parenthetical clause which defines "my friends". It's the same use as "The chairman, John Smith, called the meeting to order." "The red wine, a Julienas, was particularly popular."

    The comma after Alice makes it clear that the subject of the sentence is not a list.
    My friends, Mary, Jill and Alice, invited me to go shopping with them. My friends are Mary, Jill and Alice.

    My friends, Mary, Jill and Alice invited me to go shopping with them. Several people (my friends, Mary, Jill and Alice) invited me to go shopping.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Paul? I don't think the question is about "invite", it's about who is making the invitation.
    Ah! The line break and the lack of "with them" in the second example threw me!

    As a reward, I will say that I agree with you about the commas. :thumbsup:
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    If those three names remain bracketed by commas, Paul, it means to me that these three are the speaker's only friends and invited her to go shopping with them. If the commas are removed, it means that these three, who are among the friends of the speaker, invited her to go shopping with them.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    If those three names remain bracketed by commas, Paul, it means to me that these three are the speaker's only friends and invited her to go shopping with them.
    Strictly, speaking, yes; but in everyday speech "my friends" is frequently used to mean "some of my friends":

    My friends threw me a party for my birthday.
    On the weekends I hang out with my friends.


    Nobody would interpret those sentences as necessarily referring to all of the speaker's friends.

    So in our sentence I think May, Jill, and Alice could be bracketed as an apposition to my friends without this meaning that those are the speaker's only friends:

    My friends - Mary, Jill, and Alice - invited me to go shopping with them.
    My friends (Mary, Jill, and Alice) invited me to go shopping with them.

    (It may be clearer with dashes or parentheses instead of commas.)

    Here the speaker is adding further information to the sentence by specifying that the friends he/she is talking about are Mary, Jill, and Alice.
     
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