a. He likes me because I am funny, not good-looking. b. He likes me because I am funny, not because I am good-looking.

In which case am I good-looking? In which case is it possible that I am good-looking? (One can't tell for sure)

Is there any ambiguity in those sentences?

Many thanks

  • Tortuously teasing out a misreading from a sentence that virtually nobody would ever misunderstand in a real-world situation is pointless time-wasting unless you're trying to be a comedian. Ambiguous language exists everywhere, but human beings don't even notice it because we have common sense to guide us. Man is not a mindless machine. – tchrist Jan 25 '15 at 16:43
  • If you're truly funny you should be able to make the decision for yourself. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '15 at 20:36
  • @Fumble Fingers - for some reason I was under the impression that "marked as duplicate-this question already has an answer" meant that OP's question had not only elicited an answer(s), but elicited one that satisfied the OP and had been officially selected. Which is not true of the instant case. Please advise. – user98990 Jan 27 '15 at 20:58

They are both ambiguous, (b) is just a longer way of saying (a). Both could mean:

I am not good looking but he likes me because I am funny.


I am good looking but that's not why he likes me, he likes me because I am funny.


Yes, both sentences are ambiguous. Either one can mean you're good-looking.

  • A. "You are good-looking. Maybe that's why he likes you so much."
  • B. "He likes me because I am funny, not (because I am) good-looking.

If the verb used in the first clause fits the second, no problem omitting "not because + subject + verb" (e.g. I am funny, I am beautiful) If you use a different verb, you obviously can't omit it, though. (e.g. I am funny, I speak French.)

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