Ambiguous Sentence

Team English -
Created by: Team English -, Last Updated: May 1, 2024

Ambiguous Sentence

Dabble in the intriguing world of ambiguity where words and phrases teeter on the edge of dual meanings. Ambiguous sentences offer a delightful puzzle to the reader, sparking curiosity and leading to varied interpretations. From crafting them for artistic effect to accidentally stumbling upon them, ambiguity can be both a writer’s tool and challenge. Delve into our guide for riveting examples, crafting insights, and essential tips.

What is the Ambiguous Sentence? – Definition

An ambiguous sentence is one that can be understood in more than one way due to its wording or structure, leading to multiple potential meanings or interpretations.

What is the best Example of an Ambiguous Sentence?

Consider the statement: “Flying planes can be dangerous.” Here, the ambiguity lies in interpreting whether “flying” is an adjective describing a type of plane or a verb indicating the action of piloting planes. Thus, the sentence could mean either planes that are in the air can be dangerous or the act of piloting planes can be dangerous.

100 Ambiguous Sentence Examples

Ambiguity in language can evoke curiosity, challenge perceptions, and sometimes lead to humorous misinterpretations. While often seen as linguistic puzzles, ambiguous sentences encapsulate the fluidity and richness of language. Their dual (or even multiple) interpretations highlight the intricate relationship between context, structure, and semantics. Dive into our curated list of ambiguous sentences that showcase the art of linguistic duality, promising to both baffle and amuse.

  1. The old men and women left the room.
  2. She likes her more than me.
  3. The horse raced past the barn fell.
  4. The complex houses married and single soldiers.
  5. We saw her duck.
  6. The man whistling tunes pianos.
  7. The girl told the story to her brother was brave.
  8. I watched the man with the telescope.
  9. The chicken is ready to eat.
  10. Save soap and waste paper.
  11. The lady with the handbag is my aunt.
  12. The man who hunts ducks out on weekends.
  13. I said I would buy the red.
  14. He fed her cat food.
  15. The professor said on Monday he would give an exam.
  16. The defendant examined by the lawyer turned out to be unreliable.
  17. John and Jim are brothers I can’t stand.
  18. They are cooking apples.
  19. The man driving the car was a friend of mine.
  20. She told him that her friends were coming over.
  21. The golfer playing the last hole ended up in third place.
  22. The teacher strikes inspire fear.
  23. The magnifying glass burned a hole in the fabric.
  24. The dog that I had really loved bones.
  25. I cannot recommend him too highly.
  26. The girl I love has long hair.
  27. The man the professor has the book is tall.
  28. I convinced her children are noisy.
  29. Visiting relatives can be boring.
  30. The man watching the TV was happy.
  31. The woman just married left the room.
  32. Mary gave the child the dog bit a bandaid.
  33. The man painting the wall is my friend.
  34. I know the more difficult the problem is.
  35. The princess who was kissed by the prince cried.
  36. The crate which was full was heavy.
  37. She believes in long engagements.
  38. I shot an elephant in my pajamas.
  39. The man pushing the cart was tall.
  40. He doesn’t know if he can handle the situation.
  41. The cat the dog chased was black.
  42. The notes are sour because of the pianist.
  43. They fly planes.
  44. She likes him more than he does.
  45. The man eating the fish is sick.
  46. Students hate annoying teachers.
  47. The woman who mends socks washes the dishes.
  48. The man with the mask robbed the bank.
  49. The girl with the bright smile is my sister.
  50. I saw the grand canyon flying to New York.
  51. He is looking forward to working less.
  52. The man wearing a blue suit is young.
  53. The chicken ready to eat is in the refrigerator.
  54. They are hunting dogs.
  55. She can’t help thinking of her childhood.
  56. The professor talked about the French Revolution is very knowledgeable.
  57. The girl with the kite is young.
  58. The boy who broke the window is at fault.
  59. The girl the boy and the man are watching is talented.
  60. The artist painted by the woman is famous.
  61. They will fish.
  62. I heard the girl singing the song.
  63. The woman driving the car is my friend’s mother.
  64. The cow ready for milking is in the barn.
  65. The woman disappointed by the movie left early.
  66. He likes students who always do their homework.
  67. The criminal the police chased was caught.
  68. The man knows you has the information.
  69. The boy reading the book is intelligent.
  70. They need to fix the street.
  71. The horse ridden by the cowboy is fast.
  72. The girl whom I talked to answered my question.
  73. I see the man you are talking about.
  74. The teacher annoyed the student is absent.
  75. The student was helped by the professor passed the course.
  76. The jewels stolen by the thief have been recovered.
  77. The cat killed by the dog was very old.
  78. The dress worn by the actress is beautiful.
  79. The wine drunk by the guests was expensive.
  80. The book read by the students was difficult.
  81. The cake baked by Susan was delicious.
  82. The movie seen by us was interesting.
  83. The flowers sent by him were lovely.
  84. The house built by John is huge.
  85. The letter written by Alice was very long.
  86. The song sung by her was melodious.
  87. The food cooked by her was tasty.
  88. The homework done by him was excellent.
  89. The game played by them was exciting.
  90. The mistakes made by him were silly.
  91. The coffee drunk by her was hot.
  92. The purse bought by her is expensive.
  93. The bike ridden by him is new.
  94. The pictures drawn by her are beautiful.
  95. The speech given by him was impressive.
  96. The medicine prescribed by the doctor was effective.
  97. The story told by the old man was interesting.
  98. The toy bought by him is broken.
  99. The clothes worn by her are old-fashioned.
  100. The hotel booked by them is five-star.

Ambiguous sentences captivate because they challenge us to discern their true intent. By delving deeper into context and structure, you can craft or decode such sentences, adding a fun twist to your language endeavors.

Funny Ambiguous Sentence

  1. “The old man the boats.”
    • This sentence could mean that an elderly person is manning the boats or that aged men are the boats themselves.
  2. “Flying planes can be dangerous.”
    • This could be understood as a warning that the act of flying planes is dangerous, or it could suggest that planes which are currently flying are dangerous.
  3. “I’m glad I’m a man, and so is Lola.”
    • This can imply either that Lola is also glad that the speaker is a man, or that Lola, too, is glad to be a man.
  4. “We saw her duck.”
    • This can be interpreted as observing a woman making a quick lowering of her head or seeing a duck that belongs to her.
  5. “Juvenile court to try shooting defendant.”
    • This could mean that the juvenile court will attempt to shoot the defendant, or that they will conduct a trial involving a defendant accused of a shooting.

Structurally ambiguous sentences examples

  1. “They are cooking apples.”
    • This could mean that they are preparing apples for cooking or that the apples themselves are capable of cooking.
  2. “Visiting relatives can be annoying.”
    • This sentence could suggest that the act of visiting relatives is annoying, or that relatives who are visiting can be annoying.
  3. “The chicken is ready to eat.”
    • It could be interpreted that the chicken has been cooked and is ready to be eaten, or that the chicken itself is ready to eat something.
  4. “The man saw the boy with a telescope.”
    • This could mean that the man used a telescope to see the boy, or that the boy he saw was holding a telescope.
  5. “I watched her dog with one eye.”
    • This sentence could be understood as the speaker watching her dog while closing one eye, or it could mean that the dog being watched has only one eye.

Lexically ambiguous sentences

  1. “He was bothered by the cold.”
    • This could mean that he was annoyed by the cold weather, or it could refer to him being disturbed by a common illness, a cold.
  2. “She left her ring on the table.”
    • This could indicate that she placed her jewelry on the table, or it could suggest that she forgot to take her circus ring or some form of circular object.
  3. “They went to the bank.”
    • This could mean that they visited a financial institution, or it could imply that they went to the side of a river.
  4. “Please address the mail.”
    • This could mean to direct mail by writing an address on it, or it could involve speaking to or dealing with mail in a figurative sense.
  5. “The fisherman went to catch some bass.”
    • This sentence could imply that the fisherman is going to catch bass, the fish, or that he is looking to catch some bass sounds or tones, perhaps referring to sound equipment.

Ambiguous in a sentence with context clues

  1. “After a long day in the garden, Mary returned to her house and rested on the couch with a good book and a light blanket.”
    • Ambiguity: The word “light” could refer to the blanket being lightweight or it emitting light.
    • Context Clues: Given that she’s resting, it’s more likely referring to the blanket being lightweight.
  2. “At the zoo, children love feeding the ducks in the afternoon.”
    • Ambiguity: “Feeding” could imply that the children are giving food to the ducks or that the ducks are eating the children.
    • Context Clues: Since the scenario is at the zoo, it suggests that the children are feeding the ducks, not being eaten.
  3. “Walking through the park, the flowers looked beautiful.”
    • Ambiguity: It could seem like the flowers themselves are walking through the park.
    • Context Clues: The realistic interpretation supported by the setting (park) is that the viewer is walking and observing the beautiful flowers.
  4. “I saw her duck in the hallway.”
    • Ambiguity: This could mean seeing her duck to avoid something in the hallway or observing a duck that belongs to her.
    • Context Clues: The setting of a hallway suggests it’s more likely she ducked her head to avoid something.
  5. “Joe went to the river bank to reflect.”
    • Ambiguity: “Bank” could refer to a financial institution or the side of a river.
    • Context Clues: The verb “reflect” is commonly associated with thinking, which suggests he is at the side of the river, not a financial bank.

Ambiguous in a sentence synonym

  1. Vague
  2. Equivocal
  3. Unclear
  4. Indeterminate
  5. Obscure
  6. Cryptic
  7. Enigmatic
  8. Nebulous
  9. Murky
  10. Ambivalent

Ambiguity in Everyday Life

  1. “Watch the kids play.”
    • This could mean to observe the kids as they play, or it could be an instruction for the kids to watch a play.
  2. “You need to secure the chicken.”
    • This could refer to making sure the chicken (food) is stored safely, or it could mean ensuring that a live chicken is safely penned up.
  3. “I left my shoes by the bank.”
    • This could mean shoes left by the riverbank, or it could imply that the shoes were left outside a financial bank.
  4. “We’re going to cut the cake.”
    • This could mean literally slicing a cake for eating, or it could imply reducing the budget or funding for a project metaphorically referred to as “the cake.”
  5. “She can’t bear children.”
    • This sentence might mean she is incapable of having children, or it could imply that she cannot tolerate being around children.
  6. “I need to book my flight.”
    • While it typically means to reserve an airplane ticket, in a very informal setting, it might jokingly mean needing to literally write down details about a personal flight or project.
  7. “He’s looking at bats.”
    • This could be interpreted as observing flying mammals or examining baseball equipment.
  8. “She struck the man with the glasses.”
    • This could mean that the woman hit a man who was wearing glasses, or that she used glasses (perhaps a pair of spectacles) to strike him.
  9. “Let’s go shoot some pool.”
    • Typically understood as playing the game of pool (billiards), but out of context, it might be misconstrued as using a firearm at a swimming pool.
  10. “The guide said the river runs over the hill.”
    • This could mean the river flows over the hill, which is unlikely, suggesting perhaps that the river’s course runs across the countryside that includes a hill, or it could suggest that in some map or narrative, the river is depicted or described as running over a hill.

Types of Ambiguity

1. Lexical Ambiguity

  • Definition: Occurs when a word or phrase has more than one meaning.
  • Example: The word “bat” can refer to a flying mammal, a piece of sports equipment used in baseball, or an action (to bat one’s eyes).

2. Syntactic Ambiguity

  • Definition: Arises from a sentence or phrase that can be grammatically parsed in more than one way.
  • Example: “Eating fish can be dangerous” can mean that the act of eating fish is dangerous, or it can imply that the fish themselves are capable of being dangerous.

3. Semantic Ambiguity

  • Definition: Occurs when a sentence or expression could involve multiple interpretations due to the structure or the use of words.
  • Example: “I saw her duck” can be interpreted as someone observing a woman quickly lowering her head or seeing a duck that belongs to her.

4. Pragmatic Ambiguity

  • Definition: When the context of a phrase or sentence leaves its meaning uncertain, even if individual words and structures are clear.
  • Example: Saying “You could help me” could be interpreted as either a polite request for help or a sarcastic comment on someone’s unwillingness to assist.

5. Structural Ambiguity

  • **Often considered a subset of syntactic ambiguity, it involves sentences that can be structured or interpreted in more than one way.
  • Example: “Old men and women gathered at the hall” can be understood as a gathering of old men and women or as old men and some women of unspecified age gathering.

6. Anaphoric Ambiguity

  • Definition: Occurs when it’s unclear to which antecedent a pronoun or a noun phrase refers.
  • Example: In the sentence, “Bob told Harry that he would win the prize,” it’s unclear whether “he” refers to Bob or Harry.

What are some examples of ambiguity?

Ambiguity is a fascinating linguistic phenomenon where words, phrases, or even entire sentences can have multiple interpretations. This dual nature can arise from the specific structure of a sentence, the use of homonyms, or simply from vagueness in context. Ambiguity can be both intentional, for poetic or comedic effects, or unintentional, which can lead to misunderstandings. Here are some examples to illustrate this:

  1. “Right to bear arms” – This can mean the right to carry weapons or the right to have bear-like limbs.
  2. “I saw the man with glasses.” – Was the man wearing glasses, or did you use glasses to see him?
  3. “The chicken is ready to eat.” – Does this mean the chicken itself is ready to consume some food, or is the chicken prepared and ready for us to eat?
  4. “Visiting relatives can be tiresome.” – Are the relatives who are visiting tiresome, or is the act of visiting them tiresome?
  5. “They are hunting dogs.” – Are they in the process of hunting dogs, or are they describing a breed of dogs used for hunting?

Ambiguity can arise from various linguistic elements:

  • Structural Ambiguity: Resulting from sentence structure. Example: “I saw the man with the telescope.”
  • Lexical Ambiguity: Arising from the use of a word that has more than one meaning. Example: “bark” can refer to the sound a dog makes or the outer layer of a tree.
  • Semantic Ambiguity: When a sentence contains an ambiguous word or phrase. Example: “He likes her more than she.”

What is an example of an ambiguous sentence for kids?

For children, understanding ambiguity might initially seem confusing, but it can also be fun when presented in a playful manner. Introducing ambiguity can lead to giggles when kids realize words can have more than one meaning. Here’s a simple example for them:

“I saw the bat.”

Now, this sentence can be confusing because “bat” can mean two very different things:

  1. It might mean that someone saw a flying mammal that comes out at night.
  2. Or it could mean someone saw a piece of sports equipment used in baseball.

By using fun examples like this, kids can learn that words might have more than one meaning, and context becomes crucial to discern the intent behind a statement.

What are 2 ambiguous sentences?

Ambiguous sentences have the unique charm of possessing multiple interpretations. Their duality arises from their structure, word choice, or absence of specific context. Here are two classic examples of ambiguous sentences:

  1. “Flying planes can be dangerous.”
    • Interpretation 1: The act of piloting planes can be hazardous.
    • Interpretation 2: Planes that are currently in the air might pose a threat.
  2. “I read a book on the balcony.”
    • Interpretation 1: The act of reading took place on the balcony.
    • Interpretation 2: The book’s subject matter is about a balcony.

How do you write Ambiguous Sentence? – Step by Step Guide

Writing an ambiguous sentence involves crafting a statement that can have more than one plausible interpretation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create your own:

  1. Identify Dual-Meaning Words: Start by identifying words or phrases that have multiple meanings. For example, “bank” can mean a financial institution or the side of a river.
  2. Construct a Simple Sentence: Use the chosen word to create a straightforward sentence.
  3. Review for Ambiguity: Re-read the sentence to ensure that both meanings of the word make sense in that context.
  4. Remove Context: If the sentence isn’t ambiguous enough, try removing elements that offer specific context.
  5. Test on Others: Share the sentence with someone else. If they ask for clarification or provide multiple interpretations, you’ve successfully created an ambiguous sentence!

Tips for Using Ambiguous Sentences

While ambiguity can be entertaining and thought-provoking, it’s essential to use it judiciously, especially in situations that demand clarity. Here are some tips for effectively using ambiguous sentences:

  1. Use Sparingly in Formal Writing: In academic or professional settings, clarity is paramount. Ambiguous sentences can confuse readers and convey unintended meanings.
  2. Great for Creative Writing: Ambiguous sentences can add depth to poems, stories, and scripts, allowing readers to derive multiple interpretations.
  3. Clarify When Necessary: If you’re using an ambiguous sentence intentionally, be prepared to clarify your intended meaning if asked.
  4. Consider Your Audience: If you know your audience well, you can tailor the ambiguity to ensure they’ll understand at least one of the possible interpretations.
  5. Play with Punctuation: Sometimes, simply changing punctuation can create ambiguity. For example, “Let’s eat, Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat Grandma!”
  6. Review and Revise: After drafting an ambiguous sentence, review it to ensure it doesn’t sound awkward or forced. Revise as necessary to maintain the flow of your writing.

By understanding the art of ambiguity, you can add layers to your writing, making it richer and more nuanced. But always remember, ambiguity is a tool – use it wisely and appropriately.

Ambiguous sentences exercises

  1. The children went outside to play, despite the __________ weather.
    • A) sunny
    • B) stormy
    • C) clear
    • D) calm
  2. After reviewing the document, she realized she needed a __________ to clarify the meaning.
    • A) dictionary
    • B) lawyer
    • C) signature
    • D) magnifying glass
  3. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a kangaroo __________ in the backyard.
    • A) hopping
    • B) sleeping
    • C) driving
    • D) swimming
  4. The teacher asked the students to submit their __________ by the end of the week.
    • A) homework
    • B) excuses
    • C) chairs
    • D) lunches
  5. It was difficult to hear the announcement because of the __________ noise in the background.
    • A) soft
    • B) melodious
    • C) loud
    • D) rhythmic
  6. To everyone’s surprise, the quiet student gave the most __________ speech at the assembly.
    • A) boring
    • B) inspirational
    • C) confusing
    • D) brief
  7. When they reached the peak of the mountain, they were amazed by the __________ view.
    • A) obstructed
    • B) typical
    • C) breathtaking
    • D) blurry
  8. The chef used fresh __________ from the garden for the salad.
    • A) candies
    • B) utensils
    • C) herbs
    • D) plates
  9. The novel ended on a __________ note, leaving readers eager for the next book in the series.
    • A) concluding
    • B) mysterious
    • C) definitive
    • D) boring
  10. During the game, he managed to __________ the score, securing a win for his team.
    • A) equalize
    • B) predict
    • C) lower
    • D) forget


  1. B) stormy
  2. A) dictionary
  3. A) hopping
  4. A) homework
  5. C) loud
  6. B) inspirational
  7. C) breathtaking
  8. C) herbs
  9. B) mysterious
  10. A) equalize

What is an ambiguous complete sentence?

An ambiguous complete sentence fully expresses an idea but allows for multiple interpretations due to unclear or multiple-meaning words or grammatical structures.

How do you use ambiguously in a sentence?

You can use “ambiguously” to describe a statement or behavior that lacks clarity, making it open to several interpretations. Example: “He spoke ambiguously about his future plans.”

What is an example of a syntactically ambiguous sentence?

A syntactically ambiguous sentence has a structure that allows for more than one grammatical interpretation. Example: “Flying planes can be dangerous.”

What is an example of an ambiguous sentence for kids?

Ambiguous sentences for kids often involve simple concepts or homonyms, like: “Bear is eating a bat.” (Is it an animal or baseball equipment?)

What is a temporarily ambiguous sentence?

A temporarily ambiguous sentence creates initial confusion which resolves by the end of the sentence. Example: “After the man drank the baby cried.”

AI Generator

Text prompt

Add Tone

10 Examples of Public speaking

20 Examples of Gas lighting