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The title is way too long and not that accurate I think. The example is this:

How likely would you be to recommend this product to a colleague or somebody seeking software solutions?

When it comes to this kind of sentences, I always wonder if it means:

How likely would you be to recommend this product to a colleague seeking software solutions or somebody seeking software solutions?

or

How likely would you be to recommend this product to a colleague or somebody seeking software solutions?

Is there any way to determine if a following phrase (in this case, "seeking software solutions") applies to both of the subjects or just the one right before the phrase? Does it depend on context?

  • A comma would be needed to disambiguate if it is not clear from context. "{recommend this product to {a colleague} , (comma) or {somebody seeking software solutions}} vs. {recommend this product to {a colleague or somebody} {seeking software solutions}} HTH. – Kris Aug 17 '18 at 6:51
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In this case, it is context that determines the interpretation.

Syntactically, the sentence is ambiguous. But it's not ambiguous semantically.

It makes no sense to specify:

  1. a colleague seeking software solutions
  2. somebody seeking software solutions

A colleague is somebody, so it's redundant. It would be the same type of thing as a longer sentence:

How likely would you be to recommend this product to a colleague seeking software solutions or a priest seeking software solutions or a plumber seeking software solutions or a doctor seeking software solutions or somebody seeking software solutions?

The use of somebody at the end, when used in this general sense, includes anybody seeking software solutions; therefore, there's no need to enumerate additional list items.

If all you're really interested in is somebody seeking software solutions (whether a colleague or anybody else), then that's all you need to say:

How likely would you be to recommend this product to somebody seeking software solutions?

So, the only reason for a colleague to be specified is if they fall into some category that is not somebody seeking software solutions.

Since that category has not been noted, the most reasonable interpretation of the sentence is:

How likely would you be to recommend this product to either a colleague in general or to somebody who is seeking software solutions specifically?

Also note how my rephrasing of the sentence results in it no longer being ambiguous syntactically.

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