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Do these two sentences convey the same meaning?

  1. What is more I detailed the difficulty that arises in such an investigation where it is one person's word against another.

  2. What is more I detailed the difficulty that arises in such an investigation, certain aspects of which are a case of one person's word against another.

Sentence 1 is in a document and I'm trying to work out how ambiguous it is and whether it has the same meaning as 2.

  • For starts, the first one is ungrammatical. The clause with where should not have subject-verb inversion; it should be "where it is one person's word against another". Second, these are not punctuated correctly; there should be commas setting off the dependent adverbial and nonrestrictive relative clauses. – John Lawler Mar 1 '14 at 20:40
  • @JohnLawler whoops, typo -corrected as per your first point – KnewB Mar 1 '14 at 21:12
  • @KnewB: I'm not going to post an actual answer, because questions at this level should be asked on English Language Learners. But with appropriate intonation/punctuation, #A can be interpreted as meaning that only some such investigations might involve one person's word against another, whereas #B explicitly restricts "such investigations" to those which have that characteristic. – FumbleFingers Mar 1 '14 at 22:25
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  1. What is more I detailed the difficulty that arises in such an investigation where it is one person's word against another.

  2. What is more I detailed the difficulty that arises in such an investigation, certain aspects of which are a case of one person's word against another.

The primary difference between these two sentences is that (2) is very explicitly noting that "one person's word against another" is only part of the important details of the investigation. (1) does not do this and it could be inferred that the detailed difficulty is only related to investigations that entirely revolve around "one person's word against another".

It doesn't inherently imply this but that would be the only significant reason to choose (2) over (1).


As an aside, both sentences could use some further proofing. An example:

Furthermore, [the report] details the difficulty that arises in investigations where certain aspects of the case involve one person's word against another's.

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No I don't think they convey the same meaning. The second one seems more accurate to the situation.

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    I don't get that. You say they don't mean the same, then you say the second is "more accurate". Surely if the first one means something different, there must be cases where that is the more accurate way of putting it. We've no idea which meaning was intended, or what exactly it's referring to. – FumbleFingers Mar 1 '14 at 19:38

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