Now, if I actually want this sentence to intend that can I lift an elephant via a single hand (meaning my own hand), exactly how would I say that?



The question is perfectly grammatical, but ambiguous (which is part of the joke, actually). Your own interpretation is simply as valid as the one stated by the answer and renders even more sense from a valuable allude of view.

You are watching: How can u lift an elephant with one hand

It"s possible to remove the ambiguity with among the choices offered by the various other answers yet, really, you shouldn"t.



One possibility is:

Using just among your hands, exactly how deserve to you lift an elephant?

Even "How deserve to you lift an elephant utilizing just one hand" is ambiguous. The elephant might be making use of among your hands.

"How deserve to you lift an elephant through just one of your hands?" might be construed as an elephant that has actually stolen one of your hands, however not the other.

To be unambiguous, the sentence need to be created such that the modifier is not nearby to the object.


A feasible re-writing is

How can you lift an elephant one-handed?

One-handed deserve to act as either a adjective or an adverb. If it is put after the object ("elephant"), the word order suggests that it is being supplied in the adverbial sense, and also so is editing and enhancing the verb ("lift") fairly than the object. If you wanted to ask the "joke" feeling of the question, you would rather say

How deserve to you lift a one-handed elephant?


Like this:

How deserve to you lift an elephant one-handedly?

A interpretation of one-handedly from Oxford dictionaries:


With or utilizing just one hand.

Explanation of why it works ...

Some grammar

Tbelow is a reason why this sentence—in contrast to the Original Poster"s more intriguing one—is unambiguous.

In the original example, the preplace expression with one hand could be editing and enhancing the verb phrase lift an elephant, or it might be editing and enhancing the noun elephant. One factor for this is that preposition phrases in can modify verb phrases:

< at the weekend>

And they can likewise modify nouns:

< at the weekend>

The example in this answer post, on the other hand, offers an adverb to modify the verb expression lift an elephant. Adverbs deserve to freely modify verb phrases:

It quickly evaporatedIt evaporated quickly

But adverbs can not premodify nouns:

*It was a easily evaporation (ungrammatical)

And they rarely postmodify them either:

*It was an evaporation easily. (ungrammatical)

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

Notes for grammar junkies

It used to be typically believed that adverbs never modified nouns. However before, recent job-related in corpus grammars has actually presented this to not be true. Certain types of adverbs can extremely occasionally postmodify certain forms of noun:

- The riots newly are going to reason problem for years to come.

See more: " How Did You Take That Picture ? Vs When Was This Picture Taken?

Here we watch recently editing the noun riots. This can not be a sentence adverb, bereason the sentence overall is referring to the future, whereas recently describes the current past.