Reply to "with the original cast"

navi posted:

1) Directing the play is easier now than in the early days with the original cast.
2) Directing the play is easier now than in the early days, with the original cast.
3) Directing the play is easier now than in the early days when we had the original cast.
4) Directing the play is easier now than in the early days, when we had the original cast.

Which mean:
a) There were the early days with the original cast and then there were the later days with the original cast and we are comparing now with the former

and which mean:

b) In the early days we had the original cast and now things are better than the early days

Hello, Navi,

Taking a hard line with the restrictive-nonrestrictive distinction, as I generally do when talking about grammar, I interpret (1) and (3) as meaning (a), and (2) and (4) as meaning (b).

That said, as we know, not all writers who write in English pay punctuational heed to the restrictive-nonrestrictive distinction, especially with prepositional phrases. It may therefore be expected that (1) and (3) would be intended to mean (b).

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