“Are YOU coming to get me” / “Are you coming to GET me” Is there any grammatical or semantic difference?

Is there any grammatical or semantic difference between the phrases:

“Are you coming to get me?”—used to imply the question of whether that particular person is coming to get whoever.

And this phrase:

“Are you coming to get me”—implying that the person is late or has been expected earlier.

I’m curious as to whether these sentences have only semantic differences or if there is a difference in the case or tense—or something like that—used.


You’re asking whether the sentence is ambiguous, and whether the ambiguity is in pragmatics or semantics.

Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics and semiotics that studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, linguistics and anthropology. Unlike semantics, which examines meaning that is conventional or “coded” in a given language, pragmatics studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on structural and linguistic knowledge (e.g., grammar, lexicon, etc.) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, any pre-existing knowledge about those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker, and other factors. In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity, since meaning relies on the manner, place, time etc. of an utterance.
The ability to understand another speaker’s intended meaning is called pragmatic competence.
– wikipedia

Since your sentence is identical in both instances, syntax and grammar are the same. The semantics can be different, depending particularly on the meaning of get (get=fetch or get=assail). However, even if we take get to mean fetch as your question implies, the pragmatics are different.

If you don’t know who is going to fetch you, then your first interpretation makes sense, with a stress on the word you in the sentence. If your enquiry is about whether the person is coming to get you at all, the stress is on are or coming. Stressing other words leads to other interpretations.

So to answer your question, yes, it’s ambiguous, and the ambiguity lies in semantics and pragmatics.

Source : Link , Question Author : Morella Almånd , Answer Author : Lawrence

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