4

A while ago, I saw the following advert on Facebook:

Uber is a flexible way to earn extra money and meet new people giving rides with your own car.

Now, being a bit of a pedant, I concluded that out of context, if I didn't know what Uber was, there were two different ways I could parse "meet new people giving rides with your own car":

  1. "meet new people [who are] giving rides with your own car" - These "new people" are driving the "you" character's car.
  2. "meet new people [by] giving rides with your own car" - This is clearly the intended meaning of the phrase. Moreover, it is perhaps the more obvious interpretation.

I am not sure if (1) is a legitimate parsing of the phrase. Without the "with your own car", it's definitely unclear who the party "giving rides" is. But I'm not entirely sure if it's still possible to read in ambiguity once "your own car" is added, particularly with the addition of "own".

It's obvious that the agent doesn't have to be "you" even if "your own car" is used. For instance:

She gave a ride to the airport with my own car.

But here, with the Uber advert, the subject isn't a third-party, and so perhaps the "lesson" of this example doesn't apply at all.

Is (1) at all a legitimate parsing of the sentence, when the sentence is divorced from context? Does the use of "own" affect anything?

1
  • This could be a POB.
    – Kris
    Apr 28, 2015 at 4:57

1 Answer 1

3

Yes, I think this is ambiguous indeed, and 1 is a legitimate reading.

Another less ambiguous alternative (you mention one using "by"):

Uber is a flexible way to earn extra money and meet new people [,] while giving rides with your own car.

I looked at it and I don't feel "own" really removes the ambiguity.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.