on a...trail he had mistaken for a bear

lekal

Senior Member
Chinese
Dear teachers,
A Chinese English grammar book say that sentence 1 has ambiguity and should be rephrased as sentence 2.
I don't understand it. Can you tell me why?

1 A teen hunter has been convicted of second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting a hiker on a popular Washington state trail he had mistaken for a bear.

2 A teen hunter has been convicted of second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting a hiker he had mistaken for a bear on a popular Washington state trail.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It is not the best example of ambiguity, but the first sounds as if he mistook "a popular Washington state trail" for a bear.
     

    lekal

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It is not the best example of ambiguity, but the first sounds as if he mistook "a popular Washington state trail" for a bear.
    Thank you. Does “trail” mean “path, road” here?How can he mistake a road for a bear?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, that's why that sentence is bad. It implies something silly and illogical.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    A Chinese English grammar book say that sentence 1 has ambiguity
    The ambiguity is that in

    1 A teen hunter has been convicted of second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting a hiker on a popular Washington state trail [that] he had mistaken for a bear.

    [that] he had mistaken for a bear is intended to modify "a hiker" - however, [that] he had mistaken for a bear immediately follows "a popular Washington state trail" and therefore - following guidance in syntax - is assumed to modify "a popular Washington state trail".
     
    Top