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So it occurred to me just now that the sentence "I just got to work" could mean either: 1. I just arrived at work ("work" in this instance referring to one's place of employment) or 2. I just started working ("work" referring to the activity in this case).

I'm interested in how one would explain the ambiguity between the two understandings from a grammatical perspective. Is "to work" a prepositional phrase in one analysis (the one that understands "work" to mean the place) and maybe a catenative complement in the second (in which one understands "work" to mean the action of working) ?


Huge thanks in advance!

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anonymousIs "to work" a prepositional phrase in one analysis (the one that understands "work" to mean the place) and maybe a catenative complement in the second (in which one understands "work" to mean the action of working) ?

That's a pretty good explanation, but I can't see "work" as a verb in either interpretation.

a) work = the workplace
b) work = my work duties; the business of my work

CJ

Comments  

The context in which the given sentence appears would make the meaning clear, for example:


A: "Where are you now?"

B: "I just got to work." (= I just arrived at my place of employment. This is the meaning that would almost always be intended with this sentence. The meanings shown below are unusual.)


C: "What about the report I asked you to do?"

D: "I just got to work on it. It should be ready by tomorrow or the day after." (= I just started working on it. The words "on it" would have to be used in this situation to make the sentence understandable.)


E: "Sorry to hear about your breakup with Diane."

D: "It absolutely devastated me. I just got to work and keep my mind off it." (= I just have to keep busy. The words "and keep my mind off it" are required in this situation to make the sentence understandable.)

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I have a hunch that your guesses are correct, but I will let others more versed in grammar respond to your question.

There is also a third interpretation that you did not mention.

"I just got to work" could also be interpreted as "I must work."

Imagine a guy who has been unemployed with various bills piling up saying to his wife, "I just got to work to pay all these bills." In other words , "I must go and find work to pay all these bills." This third interpretation are similar to E and F (it should be "F") from the anonymous comment above.

Context is key.

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
That makes a lot more sense. Thank you!
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Context!

I just got to work and immediately got to work because, you know, I got to work for a living.