I'm currently taking a grammar class and the professor gave us this phrase to ponder upon. She said that there was a problem with it. I can't seem to find the problem nor the solution.

Manolette met Julette when he was leaving the airport.

(consider both Manolette and Julette MALE)

Ashley told Lama that she has the smallest room in the dorm.

Both sentences have the same problem... but have a different solution. I think the pronoun "he" and "she" is unable to identify both their antecedents in both sentences?

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    I agree with Amory that it's your homework, so you can figure out the solutions yourself (I assume "solutions" means ways of rephrasing to remove the ambiguity for each of the two possible meanings). But you might like to consider the excellent answers to a related question on ELU Jul 26, 2013 at 2:05
  • 1
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking us directly to do your homework for you. We do not mind helping or giving advice - but we are not here to do your homework for you.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 26, 2013 at 14:24
  • What exactly are you asking here? The way I read it, the question you actually want answered is why the ‘solution’ of how to remove the ambiguity would be different in these two sentences, when clearly the sentences suffer from the same problem. Is that right? If so, what makes you think there should be different solutions? We’ll need a fuller picture to try to give an accurate answer. Jul 26, 2013 at 20:11

3 Answers 3


I think the pronoun "he" and "she" is unable to identify both their antecedents in both sentences?

Correct. As for the solution, I feel you should at least do that on your own, it is your homework after all.


Just to add a small additional detail, I think the correct term for the problem is an ambiguous pronoun reference. (Apologies for the additional answer but I don't have sufficient reputation to add a comment).


Are you suggesting (or is your teaching suggesting) that the sentences you’ve given are unambiguous in that he can only refer to subject of met and not the object (or the object and not the subject)? I hope not, as that’s clearly false. Consider:

He met her when he was leaving the airport.
She met him when he was leaving the airport.

In both these sentences, the two he’s can corefer, irrespective of whether the first one is a subject or an object.

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