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This is the sentence:

The auto-negotiating device will link at the speed of the non-negotiating device, and set its port to half-duplex mode.

Can someone explain on what is being referred here when "its" is mentioned?

Its = Auto-negotiating device?
Its = Non-negotiating device?

Which does it indicate and why?

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  • 3
    It's ambiguous.
    – fev
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 10:43
  • @fev, thank you for your comment. Usually, when such a sentence formation occurs, what does the "its" point to?
    – Freshman
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 10:45
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Antecedent Precedence? (antededent of 'it') Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 14:13
  • This is a particular context, and the OP does not ask for a general rule, but how the rule applies to this particular context. I wouldn't close it as a dupe, dear folks. And I wouldn't DV both the question and the answer for this reason.
    – fev
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 14:40
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    Logically, it seems pretty unlikely that a "non-negotiating device" would allow some external device to reconfigure its (the non-negotiating device's) ports. Software firewalls wouldn't be much good if that was standard practice. But that's real-world logic and reasoning - nothing to do with the fact that syntactically the cited text is ambiguous. Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 17:07

1 Answer 1

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It can be ambiguous, but from the structure of the sentence I would say it refers to the subject of the first main clause. Consider:

The auto-negotiating device will link at the speed of the non-negotiating device, and [the auto-negotiating device will] set its port to half-duplex mode.

If you write the second clause on its own it would be:

The auto-negotiating device will set its port to half-duplex mode.

I doubt its refers to a different device. It may be helpful to add own (its own port), to get rid of any ambiguity.

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    — I agree. An auto-negotiating device chooses its settings (its own settings; not those of other devices) to connect optimally to the network.
    – Segorian
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 10:49
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    @Segorian While you were writing your comment I was adding my suggestion to use "own" in order to make it unambiguous.
    – fev
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 10:51
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    +1. This was my reasoning as well.
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 18:34
  • As @FumbleFingers, and setting itself to half-duplex mode also suggests creating a basic connection with the non-negotiating device. Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 18:45

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