Bob bought Anna's house.

Does this mean Bob bought a house from Anna, or Bob bought Anna's house for her, or both?

  • It can mean both. It is the context that informs the reader which is meant. – Marv Mills Sep 7 '15 at 9:47
  • 3
    It can mean either. It's unlikely to mean both, unless Bob is particularly generous (which is possible). – JHCL Sep 7 '15 at 9:52
  • The answer is in the question, rather obviously. – Blessed Geek Sep 7 '15 at 16:00
  • @Marv Mills ... one would hope. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 7 '15 at 16:32
 Bob bought Anna's house.

The sentence doesn't reveal whether Anna's possession of the house occurred before or after the purchase you mention, so both is possible.

Either Bob bought the house and gave it to Anna,
Or Bob bought the house that up until then belonged to Anna.

  • Or indeed he bought the house and sold it to Mary who then sold it to Anna. There is no requirement that Bob was generous just because he bought the house prior to Anna's purchase. – chasly - supports Monica Sep 7 '15 at 11:46

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