Now, if ns actually desire this sentence to median that deserve to I elevator an elephant with a single hand (meaning my very own hand), exactly how would i say that?



The concern is perfect grammatical, yet ambiguous (which is component of the joke, actually). Your very own interpretation is simply as valid as the one proclaimed by the answer and makes more sense from a practical suggest of view.

You are watching: How do you lift an elephant with one hand

It"s possible to remove the faint with among the alternatives noted by the various other answers but, really, girlfriend shouldn"t.



One possibility is:

Using only one of your hands, how deserve to you background an elephant?

Even "How deserve to you elevator an elephant using only one hand" is ambiguous. The elephant might be using one of your hands.

"How have the right to you background an elephant with simply one of your hands?" might be interpreted as an elephant that has actually stolen among your hands, but not the other.

To it is in unambiguous, the sentence must be built such the the comprehensive is not nearby to the object.


A possible re-writing is

How can you background an elephant one-handed?

One-handed can act as either a adjective or one adverb. If that is put after the object ("elephant"), the word order indicates that it is being provided in the adverbial sense, and so is editing the verb ("lift") quite than the object. If you want to ask the "joke" feeling of the question, friend would rather say

How have the right to you lift a one-handed elephant?


Like this:

How can you elevator an elephant one-handedly?

A an interpretation of one-handedly from Oxford dictionaries:


With or using just one hand.

Explanation that why it works ...

Some grammar

There is a reason why this sentence—in contrast to the initial Poster"s an ext intriguing one—is unambiguous.

In the initial example, the preposition phrase with one hand could be modifying the verb expression lift one elephant, or it could be editing and enhancing the noun elephant. One factor for this is the preposition phrases in have the right to modify verb phrases:

< at the weekend>

And castle can likewise modify nouns:

< at the weekend>

The instance in this answer post, top top the other hand, offers an adverb to change the verb expression lift one elephant. Adverb can openly modify verb phrases:

It conveniently evaporatedIt evaporated quickly

But adverbs can"t premodify nouns:

*It to be a easily evaporation (ungrammatical)

And they rarely postmodify them either:

*It to be an evaporation quickly. (ungrammatical)

And that"s why the adverb one-handedly have the right to only be editing and enhancing the verb expression lift an elephant and also not the noun phrase elephant.

Notes for grammar junkies

It provided to be typically thought that adverbs never ever modified nouns. However, recent work-related in corpus grammars has presented this to no be true. Certain types of adverbs can an extremely occasionally postmodify certain varieties of noun:

- The riots newly are walking to cause problem for years to come.

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Here we view recently editing the noun riots. This can"t be a sentence adverb, due to the fact that the sentence together a totality is introduce to the future, whereas recently refers to the current past.