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This is an example て-form sentence from bunpro where the translation is "Mary returned to the USA and I am sad."

I'm wondering if this could also mean "Mary returned to the USA and she is sad" as well since this is what I thought it meant at first before looking at the translation.

As a follow up question, if it can mean both, would it be more clear to say something like 「メアリーがアメリカに帰って私は悲【かな】しいです」? I'm thinking maybe if this is the case, out of context, even Japanese people might think it means "Mary returned to the USA and she is sad" but correct me if I'm wrong.

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I'm wondering if this could also mean "Mary returned to the USA and she is sad" as well since this is what I thought it meant at first before looking at the translation.

It's possible but not likely. The te form is a weak association between cause and effect, and the かなしい here is completely unqualified, so it looks like the speaker's emotion. You can throw a そうだ or らしい on the end, and it will end up looking like Mary is sad, or change the て to たら ending to make it look more like the two parts of the sentence are related, so

メアリーがアメリカに帰ったら悲しくなったそうです

sounds a bit more like it is Mary who's sad, not the speaker. For added effect, change ga to wa to make Mary the topic:

メアリーはアメリカに帰ったら悲しくなったそうです

That way it looks a lot more like かなしい is related to Mary.

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  • Okay thanks that makes sense. This also reminded me of how when I was learning about がる, when you're talking about someone else, you tend not to flat out say that they are something and it's better to use phrases that have less degrees of certainty (which is what I believe you did with that そう). – balderdact Mar 7 at 7:26

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