General Question

Ticce's avatar

Who is the instigator of the action in this combination?

Asked by Ticce (46points) September 11th, 2021
9 responses
“Great Question” (0points)

I don’t like his book reading.
May mean:
1) I don’t like the way he reads books. (The instigator is HE)
2) I don’t like the way his book reads. (The instigator is the book) (though it’s not realistic, I know)

Do you agree that “his book reading” may be interpreted as there are two instigators as I illustrated?

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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I interpret it as I don’t like the fact he’s reading books. I don’t completely understand either of your interpretations.

Ticce's avatar

So, you interpret it as the instigator is HE. Can “his book” be the instigator?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I can’t read any way “his book” could be the instigator.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

Your second interpretation would only make sense in a very specific situation (where someone has some kind of living and literate book). That would be a very unusual case that requires a particular context to force someone to reinterpret the normal meaning of the words.

Absent all of those special circumstances, the second interpretation cannot come up. So if this were a test question, for example, the second interpretation would not be a legitimate answer. It’s an incorrect interpretation that can only be forced to be correct by manipulating the surrounding information.

janbb's avatar

If you wanted to say the second, you would have to word it as; “I don’t like the book he is reading.”

seawulf575's avatar

It could be one of those two interpretations. It could be, as @Hawaii_Jake said, “book reading” is an act…reading books all the time. It could be that you are listening to an audiobook and you don’t like the way the book is being read, in which case you are now looking at the reader as the instigator.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

To me, “I don’t like the way his book reads” suggests that he wrote the book. It’s “his book” because he’s the author, and his writing style is somehow awkward, difficult, or otherwise unpleasant to read.

filmfann's avatar


I like the following sentence.
“I didn’t say she stole the money!”
Depending on how you say that, and which word you emphasize, it will mean different things.

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