Does the second "woman" in this sentence refer to a female supervisor?

One woman, who had been working under an extremely verbally abusive supervisor, confronted the woman and was abruptly fired from her job.

  • Unless there's a more obvious candidate in preceding context. But it's not well phrased. May 21, 2020 at 13:44
  • 3
    The woman refers to somebody, but the context doesn't make it explicit who it is. It's natural to assume, with only the single sentence, that it's referring to the supervisor, making the person a woman, but details from a previous sentences might make it clear that the woman was actually a coworker, a customer, or somebody else. May 21, 2020 at 13:45
  • Thanks. I also think it refers to the supervisor being a woman too.
    – user378133
    May 21, 2020 at 13:52
  • 2
    Note that "woman" isn't a pronoun.
    – Hot Licks
    May 21, 2020 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


From the stated example, the parenthetical "who had been working under an extremely verbally abusive supervisor" is separate from the main idea and is added to clarify the identity of the first woman mentioned. The second time a woman is mentioned it is most unlikely to be the same one.

Without the middle part the sentence reads, "One woman [..] confronted the woman and was abruptly fired from her job." Apart from sounding a bit tinny to this ear it works just fine to get the meaning across.

We may be overly used to clarifying that we are talking about a woman, not a man, these days and that's fine. We should not be surprised when we end up talking about more than one woman at a time.

  • 1
    If the two uses of "woman" refer to the same one, then this means the woman confronted herself. That doesn't seem likely.
    – Barmar
    May 21, 2020 at 22:04
  • @Barmar; Your comment is very good. It might make a better answer. I can't see why this was down voted.
    – Elliot
    Oct 21, 2020 at 0:56

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