1

Please help resolve a disputed text message and its meaning.

The question is whether the sender of the message stated that he had left the garage door open when leaving the house.

I ve left the house and notice she's gone out and left the garage door open.

The possible answers would be either

  • Yes,
  • No,
  • or ambiguous.

(big dispute between myself and a friend).

  • The sentence says "she" left the door open. Are you asking if "he", on seeing this, closed the door afterwards? How could anyone know if he did or not? – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jul 4 '14 at 18:26
1

To me, this says he has left the house, and (because he is outside and can thus see the garage) noticed that 'she' (whoever she is - wife? mother? sister?) has left the garage door open. It is impossible to infer from the message if he left the door in that state, or whether he closed it. Presumably if the expected state of the garage door when no one is at home is closed, he did close it, but that's just a presumption.

  • "Unspecified" is the appropriate answer from the set of possible answers. – Matt Gutting Jul 4 '14 at 15:01
1

Following only logic, there's no way to know with elements given (the sentence). The grammar leaves both possibilities open for who's the subject of the last action (...left the garage door open).

In a "real situation", though, the context would very likely have been enough to assume the intended meaning. By context I mean knowing the people involved, the events before and after these, possible motivations of the protagonists, and so on.


As a side note, shouldn't it be

I've left the house and noticed she had gone out and left the garage door open.

rather than

I ve left the house and notice she's gone out and left the garage door open.

?

0

I ve left the house and notice she's gone out and left the garage door open.

Let's illustrate with variation of the sentence.

  1. I am leaving the house and notice she's gone out and leaving the garage door open.

    Matching present tenses: I am leaving the house and leaving the garage door open and notice ...

  2. I left the house and noticed she's gone out and had left the garage door open.

    Matching past participles: she's gone out and had left the garage door open.
    Matching past tense: I left the house and noticed

  3. I've left the house and noticed she's gone out and left the garage door open.

    Matching past tense: I left the house and noticed and left the garage door open.
    No other match for past participle: she's gone out

  4. I've left the house and notice she's gone out and left the garage door open.

    Presuming and is used instead of to, to form a non-finite or infinitive phrase:
    I've left the house to {notice she's gone}.

Therefore, who left the garage door open?

  • If she had left the garage door open, the text needs to be:
    I have left the house and notice{ she (is gone out) and (had left the garage door open)}.
  • But the text is:
    I have {left the house and notice (she is gone out) and (left the garage door open)}.

Therefore, the answer is, the text resolves to
I have left the house
and(to) notice (she is gone out)
and I have left the garage door open.

The speaker may have intended otherwise, but if put thro an emotionless, non-contextually biased syntax analysis machine/software, the sentence says it is the speaker who leaves the garage door open.

The mechanics I used to arrive at the conclusion:

Let's put it thro my simple imaginary completely rule-based, non-emotional speech recognition software:

Rule: matching items in a non-finite phrase:
and/to notice { she's gone out and left the garage door open }

This rule is violated, and the phrase not possible because the state items of non-finite phrase should be matching participles:

  • she is gone
  • she had left the garage door open

These do not match

  • she is gone
  • she is left the garage door open (broken English).

Reapplying the rules ...

  • Matching items in non-finite phrase: she's gone.
  • Matching past participles:
    I have left to/and notice {items in non-finite phrase}, and (have) left the garage door open.

FYI, you can use a preposition to deploy a non-finite phrase. A non-finite phrase would have no tenses (I supposed that is why such phrases are non-finite). For example you would say, I came here to eat, drink and marry, rather than I came here to ate, drank and married.

The non-finite phrase (emboldened) is I came here to {non-finite element}. The non-finite elements could have a present auxiliary verb to launch the description of a state:

  • I came here to be green
  • I came here to be married.
  • I came here to get married. Even though married is past perfect tense, it is a participle describing the a current state launched by the present be/get.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.