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Could anyone please tell me what on Monday modifies in the following passage?

Does it modify has held talks?

Also, what does which refer to? The talks or the meeting? I suppose it refers to the latter, doesn't it?

The head of world football's governing body Fifa has held talks with senior officials ahead of a planned meeting on Monday, at which a date is expected to be set for a leadership election.

Sepp Blatter announced last month that he would step down weeks after the dramatic arrests in Zurich in early May of senior members of the organisation.

  • The first sentence is ambiguous. It's not clear whether on Monday refers to when the talks were held or when the meeting is planned. – Barmar Jul 24 '15 at 15:52
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I don't understand why some people are labelling the sentence as ambiguous. It really isn't.

For it to be ambiguous you would have to say "FIFA has held talks on Monday" (!) that would be an incorrect use of the present perfect. If that is what you mean you should say "FIFA held talks on Monday.".

Given the presence of the present perfect, there is only one correct way to parse the sentence.

The head of world football's governing body Fifa has held talks with senior officials ahead of a planned meeting on Monday, at which a date is expected to be set for a leadership election.

Let's cut it down to its bare essentials:

Fifa has held talks with officials ahead of a meeting on Monday at which a date is to be set for an election.

This can be broken down as follows:

  1. Fifa has [already] held talks with officials.
  2. Fifa has done this ahead of a meeting that is scheduled for Monday.
  3. At the meeting on Monday a date will be set for an election.

It's that simple.

I hope this helps.

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    I agree. If you take the phrase "on Monday" and switch it to the front of the sentence, everything breaks down. Just out of curiosity, why don;t you feel the present perfect is appropriate here? – michael_timofeev Jul 24 '15 at 16:26
  • @michael_timofeev - I do think it is appropriate - entirely appropriate. I'm saying that others seems to think it allows a different meaning to the sentence. I've edited my answer slightly to try and make my point clearer. Thanks for your feedback. – chasly from UK Jul 24 '15 at 16:54
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It is ambiguous but I expect "on Monday" refers to the meeting.

If that's what the author meant then I can understand them not noticing the ambiguity (meeting on Monday: simple).

If they meant the talks were on Monday then they should have noticed the ambiguity of putting another event in the sentence before the modifier.

"at which a date is expected to be set" is talking about the future so it cannot be referring to the talks, which have already happened.

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Grammatically, the sentence is ambiguous. However, on Monday most likely modifies planned meeting for a few reasons:

  • That's the noun it's closest to. If they wanted to modify held talks, they could have put it earlier, e.g. has held talks with senior officials on Monday.

  • Using the present perfect tense has held talks indicates that the talks occurred on several occasions. While it's possible that they all took place on Monday, this is not likely in this context.

at which also refers to the meeting, because we don't use at to refer to things happening during a talk. Also, the talks took place in the past, but is expected to be set describes something that will happen in the future.

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