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The modifier error in the sentence below creates ambiguity regarding who is on the way home - John or the huge man.

John saw a huge man on his way home

What are the different ways to fix this? The intended meaning could be either - John or the huge man.

  1. John saw a huge man who was on his way home

Who introduces a relative clause that necessarily applies to what immediately precedes it (the huge man).
So this seems fine.

  1. John saw a huge man while he was on his way home

This seems to retain the ambiguity.

  1. John saw a huge man while on his way home

Note: There are various of phrasing this correctly (as pointed out in some of the answers), but I am interested in verifying the correctness (or otherwise) of the version above. It seems correct, referring to John, but I can't justify why?

  • I'd say that the reading of (2) is rather that it was John who was on his way home, and that (3) just reflects this in a deleted version. You don't say 'I saw a man while he was on his way home' (with saw = noticed). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 28 '18 at 17:40
  • On his way home, John saw a huge man. Placing the clause 'on his way home' next to 'John' removes the ambiguity. – Nigel J Jan 28 '18 at 18:27
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Assuming John is the person who is going home, you can so phrase your sentence that it will convey what you mean it to, without ambiguity.

  • When he was on his way home, John saw a huge man.
  • As John was going home, he saw a huge man.
  • John was on his way home when he saw a huge man.

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