first learning of their mistake

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first learning of their mistake

Post by azz » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:53 am

a. First learning of their mistake, I smiled.
I think this means
a1. When I learned of their mistake for the first time, I smiled.

b. Learning of their mistake, I first smiled.
I think this means
b1. I first smiled when I learned of their mistake.


Is that correct?

Could (a) mean
c. I smiled at first when I learned of their mistake.
?

I think this (c) corresponds to (b).


Could (b) mean
d. Learning of their mistake, I smiled after a long time.
or
e. I was the first to smile when I learned of their mistake.
?

Many thanks.
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Re: first learning of their mistake

Post by Phil White » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:25 pm

Sentence a does not work as you have it. It needs to read "On first learning ...".

The sentences then have the meanings you originally proposed.

As far as your suggestions c, d and e are concerned, the answer to all of them is probably no.
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: first learning of their mistake

Post by tony h » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:04 pm

Phil White wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:25 pm
Sentence a does not work as you have it. It needs to read "On first learning ...".

The sentences then have the meanings you originally proposed.
Without Phil's "on", the "first" suggests a sequence (of reactions).

eg
a. First learning of their mistake, I smiled. Then, realizing I would look heartless, I put on a concerned, sympathetic face.

b. Learning of their mistake, I first smiled then, realizing I would look heartless, I put on a concerned, sympathetic face.

When Grand-mama fell off the boat,
and couldn't swim and wouldn't float,
Matilda just stood by and smiled.
I almost could have slapped the child.
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Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

End of topic.
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