I'm Japanese and I am studying English, in particular, reading English books. I have some questions about the subject.

We also use pronouns in Japanese. Then, a subject usually does not change from line to line. For example, if we say the following sentence in Japanese, "Lon wrote a letter. He sent it to Jacob. He was excited." then the last "he" means Lon; whereas, if we say the above in English, the last "he" can mean both "Lon" and "Tom", as I studied.

In English, isn't it hesitated to change a pronoun from line to line?


  • 1
    We try to avoid this unless the context makes the interpretation clear. – Barmar Mar 16 at 0:01

When translating from one language to another the precedence of word order can be very significant.
You explained your Japanese interpretation of

Lon wrote a letter. He sent it to Jacob. He was excited.

As being very clear that Lon is the subject of the last part.  

In English we would expect in order to remove any ambiguity,

Lon wrote a letter. He was excited. He sent it to Jacob.

  • 1
    In English, pronouns are inherently ambiguous, and people do not as a general rule reorder their sentences to remove ambiguity. In fact, reordering sentences is one of the least likely ways we would remove ambiguity, because the order of sentences affects the meaning. Even in this example. – Peter Shor Mar 16 at 10:23

You are correct in thinking that this could cause confusion, as the second "he" could mean either of the two previously mentioned people. To avoid this, I would explicitly state the subject of the second one, like this:

"Lon wrote a letter. He sent it to Jacob. Jacob was excited."

Another way to disambiguate, as @Janus Bahs Jacquet mentioned, is to use relative clauses. In this case, the subject of the clause would be relative to the preceding subject:

"Lon wrote a letter and sent it to Jacob, who was excited."


"Lon wrote a letter. He sent it to Jacob, who was excited."

  • 3
    Or, perhaps more commonly, resolve the issue by using various grammatical/syntactic tools available to disambiguate, such as (in this case) relative clauses: “Lon wrote a letter and sent it to Jacob, who was excited [at receiving the letter, presumably]”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 15 at 15:57

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