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a. I met Tom's ex-wife at a dinner party last night.

Could one use that sentence if one knows that Tom has more than one ex-wife and one hasn't been talking about a particular ex-wife? So context does not clarify which ex-wife I am talking about. I just say the sentence out of the blue.

I think the correct way would be to say:
b. I met one of Tom's ex-wives at a dinner party last night.

But I think people would use (a) instead of (b).

Many thanks

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Hello, Azz—Yes, I agree with you that most people would probably use (a) instead of (b), even though (b) is technically more accurate. I think the reason is that it may be felt impolite to imply overtly that the person has more than one ex-wife. If the interlocutor is aware that Tom does have more than one ex-wife and wishes to know which one the speaker is referring to, he'll probably ask.

Last edited by David, Moderator

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