Ambiguity is when a word, phrase, or statement contains more than one meaning. It occurs when something can have more than one interpretation, explanation or meaning. Ambiguity is when the meaning of a word, phrase, or sentence is uncertain.
- I saw you calling someone. (This can mean that I saw you while I was calling someone or I saw you while you were calling someone.)
- Kalisa joined his friends listening to the music. (We don’t know if it was Kalisa who was listening to the music or his friends.)
- We went to the airport ready for my cousin wearing in red. (It can be us who were wearing in red or my cousin was the one in red.)
- The teacher met the students reading books. (The teacher can be the one who was reading, or it was the students who were reading.)
- Rebecca has seen someone with a telescope. (Rebecca has seen someone by using a telescope, or she has seen someone who has a telescope).
- The cat chased the mouse until it stumbled and fell. (It can be the cat which fell or the mouse can be the one which fell).
- My mother never made chocolate cake, which we all hated. (This can either mean that we hate chocolate cake, or we hate that our mother never made it for us).
- The chicken is ready to eat. (It can be the time to eat the cooked chicken, or it is the time for the chicken to eat).
- Do you see that cow with one eye? (The question can be if you saw a cow by using one eye, or you saw a cow which has one eye.)
- I went to the bank. (The bank could be a place where money is kept, or it could be the edge of a river).
- Visiting relatives can be exhausting. (We don’t know what is exhausting. It can be when relatives visit you, or when you visit them).
- Let’s stop controlling people. (It can be to stop people who control others, or to stop controlling other people).
- When it is announced that another baby is on the way, the father remarks: “That could create some problems.” (He means problems with money, but his young son thinks, “You’re right, dad! I don’t want to share my room and toys with anybody!”)
Ambiguous words or statements lead to vagueness and confusion, and shape the basis for instances of unintentional humour. In speech, one might want to use ambiguity to make his/her audience consider things for themselves.