1. I saw a man in the room.
  2. I saw the man in the room.

1a. I saw a man who was in the room. There were five people in the room, for example. I saw one man who was in the room. In this case, 'in the room' can modify 'a man'.

1b. In the room, I saw a man. In this case 'in the room' modifies 'saw' in Sentence 1. So Sentence 1 also has structural ambiguity, doesn't it?

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    The way you've formatted your question is very confusing. What role does sentence 2 play? You've listed it, but you only ask about 1a and 1b. (Which you don't list.) Does sentence 2 have any purpose? Why didn't you just list 1a and 1b? – Jason Bassford Apr 13 '19 at 15:08

In (1), "in the room" is an adverbial adjunct of place.

In (2), "in the room" can be:

2a. an adverbial adjunct of place if it can be placed at the beginning of the sentence without any change of meaning:

  • In the room, I saw the man.

2b. a postmodifier of the noun phrase "the man" if the meaning is:

  • I saw the man who was in the room.
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