I came across this paragraph on the web:

The leather craftsman blogger that Bob reached out to was so enthused about the iPhone case, that he asked Bob if he could do a giveaway. Contestant entrants emailed him (so Bob could add them to his newsletter list), and the winner received a free iPhone case with custom engraving.

Does the 'he' in "if he could do a giveaway" mean Bob or the blogger?

  • 2
    Also, who is being emailed? :) Aug 7, 2019 at 19:56
  • It's a guessing game, but from the context I'd assume that 'he' in 'he could do a giveaway' is Bob and also that the contestents emailed Bob. Bob as I see it created the cases and showed them to the leather craftsman blogger so the blogger could blog about them..
    – S Conroy
    Aug 7, 2019 at 21:43
  • Who would ask themselves to do a giveaway?
    – Duck
    Aug 8, 2019 at 6:04

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, in this case the sentence is ambiguous. There is no way to determine who that "he" is referring to without further context. I would assume that it is the blogger because Bob is called out by name in the following sentence, but even this is not necessarily correct.

  • Thank you. I understand. :)
    – moefetish
    Aug 9, 2019 at 20:39

I think there's a subtle clue that "he" probably refers to the blogger. "if he could" usually means asking for permission, and Bob doesn't need permission from himself to do something.

If the blogger were suggesting that Bob do the giveaway himself, it would be more idiomatic to write "if he would" rather than "if he could".

This isn't completely unambiguous, though, because "if he could" can also be used to ask if someone is able to do something, and in that case it could still refer to Bob's ability. But I think this would be an unusual thing to say, so I think my earlier interpretation is most likely.

  • Thank a lot. :) It helps.
    – moefetish
    Aug 9, 2019 at 20:39

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