1

I got offered a job in New York.

Does this sentence mean: "I got offered a job to work in New York" Or "I got offered a job when I was in New York"?

Can this sentence carry both of these meanings by any chance, so that its meaning depends on context? How do you interpret this sentence?

  • Because your second interpretation is so unlikely, I expect most native speakers would be sufficiently on the ball as to include while or when after job if that really was what they meant. But even then they'd probably have to explicitly say where the job itself was, if not NY: I got offered a job in LA while [I was in] NY. – FumbleFingers Jan 31 '18 at 18:37
4

Usually (=almost 100% of the time) it means that you now need to move to New York if you want to get the job (that is, the workplace is located in New York).

I think it can also mean that, while I was in New York, someone offered me a job. But this is highly dependent on context. If I said something along the lines of:

I just love the United States, so many good things happened to me there. The first time I did a road trip there I found my soul mate in New Jersey and I got offered a job in New York.

This could mean, perhaps, that while I was in New York, someone offered me a job. But usually one would understand instead that someone offered me a job situated in New York.

1

The sentence has both meanings. The listener will pick which is most likely.

This kind of ambiguity is the basis for some humor, for example, the famous Groucho Marx quote:

One morning (while in Africa) I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know.

Like "in New York" it's not clear whether the phrase "in my pajamas applies to "I" or "an elephant". We initially assume the more likely option, only to be told the other, improbable option is the truth.

In the same way you could make a (weak) joke poking fun at some undesirable location:

I was offered a job in New Jersey. Thank goodness the actual job was in California.

If you want to remove the ambiguity, you just need to add a word or two:

I was offered a job while in New York. (I was in New York)

I was offered a job located in New York. (The job is in New York)

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