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1) With Tom, there are five people who saw the accident.

I think that sentence could mean two things:

a) Counting Tom, there are five people who saw the accident.

b) In Tom's company, there are five people who saw the accident.

Is that correct?

2) With Tom, Pete and Jack, there are three people who saw the accident.

Is '2' ambiguous as well?
I think it is.

Gratefully,
Navi

Original Post
@navi posted:

1) With Tom, there are five people who saw the accident.

I think that sentence could mean two things:

a) Counting Tom, there are five people who saw the accident.

b) In Tom's company, there are five people who saw the accident.

Is that correct?

Hello, Navi—Yes, (1) can mean (a) or (b). On meaning (a), Tom saw the accident, too. On meaning (b), we don't know whether he did; maybe he is a news broadcaster standing with five witnesses to the accident.

Interestingly, if the sentence used the past tense in the main clause ("With Tom, there were five people who saw the accident"), there would be the additional possibility that all six people saw the accident together.

@navi posted:

2) With Tom, Pete and Jack, there are three people who saw the accident.

Is '2' ambiguous as well?

Yes, as before, the "with"-phrase could be a sentence-level adjunct meaning "Including Tom," giving the (a)-type meaning, or it could be equivalent to "There are three people in Tom, Pete and Jack's company who saw the accident."

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