"the school was set in a little pray house built with bamboo and straw with hardly any walls".

Is it grammatically correct? Since I don't know that "with hardly any walls" modifies "the school" or "a little pray house".

And if it is wrong, can I change it into:

the school was set in a little pray house with hardly any walls/without any walls, built of bamboo and straw.

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    @Mari-LouA custompalmtrees.com/images/resimages/7405.jpg – deadrat Dec 16 '15 at 10:05
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    The first sentence is grammatically correct as it stands, but if you want to make it unambiguous without changing the order to the more awkward order in the second sentence, how about "the school was set in a little pray house built with bamboo and straw, and with hardly any walls." – Peter Shor Dec 16 '15 at 11:15

Let's capitalize the first word of the sentence and assume that "pray" is a typo for some adjective that properly modifies "house," perhaps "prayer house" meaning a place of worship.

Your first version places the prepositional phrase "with hardly any walls" immediately after "straw," which may mislead your readers into initially parsing the building material as straw that has few walls. That's impossible, so readers will be quick to realize that it's the house that has few walls.

Thus your second version is slightly kinder to your readers by placing the house modifier next to "house." Notice that the comma after walls saves the "built" phrase from the same fate -- it would apply (restrictively) to the nearby "walls" only in the absence of the comma.

There are some semantic oddities -- the use of "pray," the verb set, and the use of "little" and "hardly any" -- but those aren't grammatical issues.

Be aware that it's hard to understand the description of walls without visualizing the following image: enter image description here

If that's not what you have in mind, you might reconsider your description.

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  • It seems that the school used to be a small "building" reserved for prayers or worship. I'm more concerned with the expression "hardly any walls", how can a standing structure have "hardly any walls" or worse, no walls at all (without any walls)?! Was it round, like a hut? Is that what the OP means? – Mari-Lou A Dec 16 '15 at 9:51
  • @Mari-LouA Perhaps a tiki hut, which needn't be round (i.e., have its supports in circle). But I share your reservation. – deadrat Dec 16 '15 at 10:04
  • @Mari-LouA I am slightly loathe to do so because 1) it's only a guess, albeit a reasonable one, about the OP's meaning, and 2) it goes a bit beyond English usage per se. I hope the OP weighs in. – deadrat Dec 16 '15 at 10:13
  • I suspect that it should be prayer house. – Andrew Leach Dec 16 '15 at 10:27
  • @Mari-LouA I defer to your judgment. – deadrat Dec 16 '15 at 10:37

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