ambiguous sentence

bubu   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 01:43 GMT

I came across the sentence yesterday. And can any one plz help me with it?

"Tom smells like a dog"

This might mean :

Tom has the ability to smell like a dog
[his sense of smell is as good as a dog's]

and it also mean:

Tom's body smells like a dog

How else can I express the first one without making it ambiguous?

Note:- I don't want to use the modal "can". However, even if we try to use the modal "can" to refer to the ability, it will still be ambiguous. it can mean there is a possibility that Tom's body can sometimes smell like a dog's.

Thank you.
Joe   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 03:39 GMT
You can always say:

Tom's sense of smell is like that of a dog's.
Jim   Thursday, October 21, 2004, 00:18 GMT
How about:

A1) "Tom smells as well as a dog."

B2) "Tom smells as bad as a dog."

The difference in grammar is enough to convey the meaning. In sentence (A1) you've got an adverb, "well", and in (B2) there's an adjective, "bad". Hence (A1) has the meaning you want and (B2) has the meaning that you don't want.

The use of the positive verses the negative is just there to help get the meaning across. We all know that dogs smell well. We also all know that dogs smell bad. However, let's swap thinks around just to see what happens.

B1) "Tom smells as badly as a dog."

A2) "Tom smells as good as a dog."

Literally (B2) and (A2) have the same meaning. Normally you'd understand (B2) and (A2) to mean the same thing though the statement has perhaps exchanged its oomph for a hint of sarcasm.

However, when it comes to (B1) and (A1) it's a different story altogether. Again they are the same literally. This would only make sense if you were being sarcastic quite deliberately.
Franco   Friday, October 22, 2004, 07:30 GMT
you could say:

1) Tom's nose has a sense of smell to rival that of a dog.

2) Tom is a dog in the matter of the extent at which he can smell minute odours wafting through thin, high-altitude air.

3) Tom can smell stuff dogs can smell.

4) Tom is inhuman.

5) Tom is a filthy mutt.
Jim   Friday, October 22, 2004, 07:48 GMT
"... let's swap thinks around ..."

What was I thinging?