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If we say,

'Jim is the youngest of (his) six brothers"

how many brothers does Jim have? Are they six as Jim is included, or just five?

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You would not normally use that 'his' in the sentence. So there would be no ambiguity. –  Kris Jan 12 '13 at 15:24
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Including his makes no sense as Jim is a not a member of the set of his brothers so cannot be the youngest. –  TheMathemagician Jan 12 '13 at 15:52
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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, Kristina Lopez, tchrist, Robusto, Carlo_R. Jan 12 '13 at 18:00

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

You're asking us to give you the meaning of a mistaken sentence. Jim is not his own brother.

"Jim is they youngest of six brothers" would mean he had five brothers (there are six people who are brothers to each other, including Jim).

"Jim is the youngest, having six brothers" would mean he had six brothers (there are seven people who are brothers to each other, including Jim).

"Jim is the youngest, with six brothers" would strictly be the same as above (he has 6 brothers, totalling 7 people), but more open to misinterpretation.

The fact that the "(his)" above is in parentheses suggests that they meant the first example I gave, and the writer's mistake was to add in that word, but they could have meant something closer to the second and their mistake was different. That we can't tell for sure is the reason we try to be precise in using language, after all.

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That “Jim is the youngest, having six brothers” means “there are seven people who are brothers to each other, including Jim” is not necessarily so, since Jim is occasionally used as a nickname for a female. –  jwpat7 Jan 12 '13 at 19:17
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