October 11, 2007

One word, two meanings!

"Witnesses confirmed the man was driving on the right side of the road." In order to understand the meaning of "right" in this sentence, we need to read the rest of the story. Was the man driving on the right side of the road, not the left? Or was he on the correct side of the road?

There are many examples of English words with more than one meaning. Read, for instance, the sentences in this activity and decide the two possible meanings in each case. Then try this quiz and decide which word completes both sentences in each set.

The TV commercial below makes very clever use of ambiguity to advertise a brand of instant coffee. In the ad, actor George Clooney overhears two women describing the coffee and thinks they are talking about him... Which adjectives do they use? What is different when they use them to refer to the coffee and to him?

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