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Mom was saying that dad wanted me to mow the lawn and asked what time I would be coming home.

In the sentence above, who is asking what time I would be coming home, mom or dad? If it's mom, why isn't it dad? And if it is the dad, why isn't it mom?

Basically which subject is the and for? Mom or Dad? What are the rules?

  • 4
    I’m not sure why you would think there are rules to resolve attachment ambiguities. – tchrist Oct 19 '16 at 18:33
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    I'd expect 'had asked' if the question was dad's. A 'she' or 'that he had' disambiguates perfectly. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '16 at 19:27
  • I think it's ambiguous. I also gravitate towards mom asking, but it could be either. – Barmar Oct 19 '16 at 21:21
  • The "lawn and asked" is part of the same clauae--dad had two messages to relay to mom: mow the lawn, and what time will you be home. The subject "Dad" is being applied to both verba, asked and wanted. – Lisa P. Oct 20 '16 at 0:44
  • @EdwinAshworth you would not use "had asked" because "had wanted" was not used. There is no reason change tense. – Lisa P. Oct 20 '16 at 0:45
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Though it is ambiguous but I think it was the dad who asked the time. Let's break down the sentence and convert it to Active voice.

Mom was saying that dad wanted me to mow the lawn and asked what time I would be coming home.

will break down to

Mom was saying that | dad wanted me to mow the lawn | and | asked what time I would be coming home.

The mom probably said "Dad wants you to mow the lawn and asked what time he will be home.?".

The dad probably told mother,"I want him to mow the lawn and at what time will he be home.?".

  • My reading goes Mom was saying / that dad wanted me to mow the lawn / and (she) asked what time I would be coming home. Possibly for reasons in the second comment above. – Dan Oct 19 '16 at 20:54
  • I'm largely with Dan but could you accept that it's simply a badly written sentence and any attempt to give it a clear meaning is bound to fail? – Robbie Goodwin Nov 6 '16 at 1:17

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