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With the sentence: "If he was Little Freddie, the apple of Vinnie's eye, would have told him." Does it mean if he was Little Freddie, or was he referring to Little Freddie? I think the meaning is for the latter, but reading the sentence itself makes me feel something's off.

If it's the former, how would one go about to make it mean the latter? Should it be "If he was, Little Freddie, the apple of Vinnie's eye, would have told him."

By the way, he refers to another person, not Little Freddie or Vinnie. Little Freddie is Vinnie's younger brother.

Here's a more complete example:

Vinnie feels like his father isn't telling the truth. If he was Little Freddie, the apple of Vinnie's eye, would have told him.

  • Ignore the comma after 'Freddie.' – Kris Nov 5 '13 at 6:40
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    "If he was Little Freddie the apple of Vinnie's eye, would have told him." This way? Still sounds wrong though, I don't know. What rules govern this type of scenario? – Vinnie Nov 5 '13 at 6:42
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    I think a more clear way to put it would be, "If he was, Little Freddie -- the apple of Vinnie's eye -- would have told him." That way, it's much more clear. Another option would be to put "the apple of Vinnie's eye" in parentheses. – pmusser Nov 5 '13 at 7:15
  • @snailboat actually it was Little Freddie who would have told Vinnie that his father was telling the truth. Vinnie feels that his father was lying, but his little brother, Little Freddie, would have told him if he was really telling the truth because Little Freddie would know if his father was lying or not – Vinnie Nov 5 '13 at 7:35
  • @pmusser I don't think I've ever seen the use of those hyphens that way before, I checked this link and it states they are "used for emphasis or interruption. They can be used on their own or in pairs to offset a word or phrase" and their examples fit yours. Thanks, that's one way of doing it. :) – Vinnie Nov 5 '13 at 7:39
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The sentence most likely means:

If he was [lying], Little Freddie would have told him.

The author's inclusion of "the apple of Vinnie's eye" makes the sentence very confusing to read because they subsequently dropped the comma after "was [lying]".

You could also rewrite the sentence as such:

Little Freddie, the apple of Vinnie's eye, would have told him if their father was lying.

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