Grammatical Ambiguity


The sentences we write should have only one possible meaning. Can you spot the ambiguity in the following sentences?

  1. Anyone who cooks occasionally creates dishes that make one choke.
  2. She taught a course in controlling riots at the University of Alberta.
  3. We knew we would make money on the deal before it was closed.
  4. Try as he might, Anthony could not explain why he wanted to get married to his cousin.
  5. He eats twigs and berries only because he needs the fibre.
  6. The Mayor acknowledged the role played by the police who broke up the drug ring at the annual mayoral dinner.
  7. Each subscriber to a newspaper in Victoria will receive an extra recycling box.
  8. The office will issue flashlights to janitors who work in Building A and Building B.
  9. We spotted the alchemist driving down the street.
  10. The parishioners sponsored a paper drive to help the Katrina relief effort that they had spent months planning.



  1. Do occasional cooks create such dishes, or do all cooks occasionally create them?
  2. Was the course on riots that happen at the University of Alberta or riots in general?
  3. Would the money be made before the deal was closed, or did we only know about it before the deal was closed?
  4. Was Anthony planning to marry his cousin or only trying to explain to her why he wanted to get married?
  5. Is it only twigs and berries he eats, or does he eat them only because he needs the extra fibre?
  6. Did the police break the drug ring up at the mayoral dinner or somewhere else?
  7. Is it subscribing to a newspaper published in Victoria or to any newspaper that merits the extra recycling box?
  8. Will only janitors who work in both buildings or those who work in either building get the flashlights?
  9. Were we or the alchemist driving down the street?
  10. Had the parishioners spent months planning the paper drive or the Katrina relief effort?

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