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Example

We'll need a little extra time to load the boxes with promotional materials we'll be handing out to the job applicants.

In this sentence, do they put the boxes( full of promotional materials) into something like a vehicle, or put promotional materials into the boxes?

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    Is there more context?
    – DW256
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 6:53
  • 1
    Without more context, it's ambiguous, and could mean either activity. Load is a member of the eponymous spray/load verbs, which have special affordances, as the link makes clear. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 20:46
  • There is no more context around the sentence. This is excerpted from the TOEIC test. Somebody interpreted this into Japanese only one way in his blog, and I've been wondering. So, without any context, it can mean both ways? Thanks.
    – samuraiJPN
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 4:02
  • Isn't the only real Question whether each box contains one candidate's hand-out, or several? Grammar, syntax and even idiom are unlikely to clarify that but who doubts '… to load the boxes with promotional materials we'll be handing out to the job applicants…' is an artificial construct? Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 17:57
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    Also, if you want to refer to boxes that are full of something, you'd usually say "boxes or ..." or "boxes containing ...", not "boxes with ...".
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 21:52

1 Answer 1

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I think the normal interpretation is that you're putting promotional material into the boxes. We don't usually say "boxes with X" to mean boxes that contain X. We normally say "boxes of X" or "boxes containing X".

Also, if you're loading something onto/into something else, you usually mention what "something else" is, either in the sentence or the established context.

So if they meant that a truck was being loaded, a more likely sentence would be

We'll need a little extra time to load the truck with the boxes of promotional materials that we'll be handing out to the job applicants.

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