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Who does the sword belong to?

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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Who does the sword belong to?

Postby Fido » Sat Oct 30, 2004 4:20 pm

William stabbed Arthur with his sword?

Thank you
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Postby Alan » Sun Oct 31, 2004 12:01 pm

Your sentence is correct.
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Postby Fido » Sun Oct 31, 2004 1:50 pm

Many thanks indeed.

Just a little correction to my previous post. The question mark wasn`t meant to be there. (I` d better proofread before posting) But the thing that had me scratching my head is his and its reference to either William or Arthur.

Although English is extremely rich in vocubulary, it`s quite poor in grammar and some structures are missing. In this case, I can`t tell who the sword belongs to as it refers to either one, I believe. (I`d like to get it confirmed) Maybe I`m just plain dumb, but I can`t think of any substitution for his, without changing the word order, to make the sentence exclusive.

I have to alter the sentence quite significantly, and yet I don`t get what I want.

Only the passive seems to indicate the owner of this sword without ambiguity.

Arthur has been stabbed by William`s knife.

Could you please give me the sentence in the active, or at least some pointers so that I can sleep well?
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Postby Alan » Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:19 am

Only sense/context can determine the referent of 'his' here. In a situation where it is important to be absolutely clear as to ownership, we have no choice but to name the possessor, however inelegant or repetitive that might be. The name would often be added parenthetically thus

William stabbed Arthur with his (William's) sword.
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