Ambiguity Caused by Negation Followed by Causation in Conditional Clauses

Consider the following:

If I don’t go to the movies because of your nagging …

It conveys two possible meanings:

If your nagging causes me not to go to the movies …

If I go to the movies for one or more reasons other than your nagging …

I encounter this sporadically in my general writing, but I don’t recall having seen it in contracts. Have you?

Also, have you encountered any discussion of this ambiguity? Have I characterized it correctly?

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.