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It’s hopefully clear from the context or intonation, because otherwise it’s ambiguous. Different word orders suggest different primary meanings, though. Cornelias Vater hat in Mainz schon auf Cornelia gewartet. Rather neutral location information, schon emphasizes either the temporal aspect or the person. He’s already been there when Cornelia (and not ...


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The scope of schon can be influenced by where exactly you put it. Cornelias Vater hat schon in Mainz auf Cornelia gewartet (und nicht erst in Mannheim). is more likely to mean that there were several possible places where C.'s father might have awaited her (perhaps she's arriving on a train from far away, and he chose one of the earlier stops). schon ...


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Cornelias Vater hat schon in Mainz auf Cornelia gewartet. Both of your interpretations are possible. Just going by content, I find the first one more plausible. However, for the first meaning and without putting extra emphasis on Mainz, the following word order would be more natural: Cornelias Vater hat in Mainz schon auf Cornelia gewartet.



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