Given the following sentence:

Please input the path to the main plugin file

How should it be read? I can think of two possible ways to interpret main plugin file:

The most important file of this plugin (it is not important which particular plugin we're referring to).


The file belonging to the most important plugin on the site (it implies there is only one file in the plugin, or that it is otherwise clear what file we want).

What I meant when I wrote that sentence was the first option, i.e. it's supposed to ask the user the main file of an unspecified plugin. I am unsure whether I'm actually saying what I mean to say, though :)

I would appreciate it if someone could shed some light on the issue.

If this question belongs in English Language Learners rather than English Language & Usage, please let me know and I'll move the question there.

  • 1
    You wrote it, and you think it's ambiguous. Likely there will be confused users as well. Unwrap it: "Please input the path to the main file of the plugin."
    – deadrat
    Jul 16, 2015 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


The trick is hyphenate or compound words where you need to. The sentence is poorly worded and is very ambiguous.

In your example you could have "the main plugin-file" or you could have "main-plugin file".

That can look a but clunky and might offend a few people but if you're interested in clarity then it's useful.

Given normal word order (which people don't often pay attention to) then the last word is the subject and the two words before it are adjectives so it would be read as

Input the path to the file that is both most important and a plugin.

This all turns on whether plugin is being used as a noun or an adjective.

  • 2
    This is just wrong.
    – Robusto
    Jul 16, 2015 at 10:58

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