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Word order

Ernest Bywater

In another thread I raised the issue of putting words in the correct order, but I didn't have any samples of what I was talking about at that time, thus the nit pickers jumped in and went to town on the off the cuff types of errors I mentioned. The most worrying aspect is the type of error is consistent by the few authors who do it. Here's an example from a story on SoL. I'll post other examples as I find them (if I remember to).

Original: - We drove quickly home.

What I was taught it should be: - We quickly drove home.

This sort of word order is common enough to make me wonder if it's being taught that way to students in some places in the USA.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Original: - We drove quickly home.

The natural order for that sentence is 'We drove home quickly', i.e. subject, verb, object, adverb.

It's not wrong to shift the adverb earlier in the sentence but doing so gives it added prominence. If I wanted that, I'd be more inclined to use your version, 'We quickly drove home' than the original.

rustyken

@Ernest Bywater

I have to admit that the first looks like something I could create, however I believe the second sounds and feels better. To me it how the idea presents itself as you are typing and after typing 'drive' you realize your intent is 'quickly' so you add it. Sloppy yes, but when thoughts flow causing can cause them to stop and it is often difficult to recapture the brilliant dialog. ;-)

Cheers

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
tendertouch
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Neither sounds odd to me so I did a quick search. The Cambridge Dictionary appears to prefer the original - they suggest that adverbs that describe the manner in which a verb is performed typically go after the verb.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@tendertouch

The Cambridge Dictionary appears to prefer the original - they suggest that adverbs that describe the manner in which a verb is performed typically go after the verb.


I wonder if they say the same when you make it less active and more passive to have:

It was a drive quick home.

or

It was a quick drive home.

Replies:   Ross at Play  BlacKnight
Ernest Bywater

@rustyken

To me it how the idea presents itself as you are typing and after typing 'drive' you realize your intent is 'quickly' so you add it. Sloppy yes, but when thoughts flow causing can cause them to stop and it is often difficult to recapture the brilliant dialog. ;-)


True, and that's what an editorial clean up check is for before you send it to your editor so he can find the ones you missed.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

It was a drive quick home.
or
It was a quick drive home.

The first is dead wrong.

The second, correctly, has the adjective, quick, modifying the compound noun, drive home.

Ernest Bywater

Here's another example of where the word order causes me to stop to make sense of it. Original followed by how it would appear according to how I was taught to write English.

The two instantly were in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

Instantly, the two were in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

or

The two were instantly in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

Ross at Play
Updated:

EB,

I think you're looking for rules or principles where none exist.

There are tendencies for where native speakers position adverbs and adverbial phrases, but no definitive rules I am aware of. You have to test where something sounds right.

The good news is your ear for where they sound best is good. I agree all of your examples do sound off-putting, even if I'm unwilling to declare some of them as wrong.

Consider these two examples from above:
We quickly drove home.
The two instantly were [there].

The first has the adverb placed where you consider best. I'd prefer it at the end but I consider that one is okay. We both think the second sounds awful.

Yet, both of those sentences have the same word order: subject, adverb (manner), verb, adverb (place).

So, I think this thread is counterproductive. It initiates a discussion about something for which there is no analytical answer. The best we can do is trust that our ear will know when we get something right.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I think this thread is counterproductive. It initiates a discussion about something for which there is no analytical answer.

And a reference which supports that ...

This is the opening sentence of a page titled 'Order of Adverbs' at thefreedictionary.com:

Because adverbs are used to modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, phrases, clauses, or even entire sentences, they are able to function nearly anywhere in the sentence, depending on their type and what it is they are modifying.

Replies:   Uther_Pendragon
REP

@Ernest Bywater

In the past, I used what Ross calls the natural order with the adverb at the end of the sentence. I have focused on changing that to place the adverb before the verb, because there can be a problem with using the natural word order.

According to Ross, the adverb always modifies the closest verb.

In 'We drove home quickly', it is clear that you intend quickly to modify drove.

But modify the sentence by adding a second verb between drove and quickly - 'We drove home and he ran up the stairs quickly'.

Your intent may be quickly drove, but by Ross's rule you get quickly ran.

With that in mind, putting the adverb before the verb makes sense.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@REP

'We drove home and he ran up the stairs quickly'.

Your analysis looks at sentences when you need to consider clauses.

Your example with two verbs has two clauses joined by a conjunction. They are:
We drove home
he ran up the stairs quickly

That is why 'quickly' must be modifying 'ran'.

To have 'quickly' modifying 'drove' it must be in the same clause. The full sentence could then be any one of the following.
* We drove home quickly and he ran up the stairs
* We drove quickly home and he ran up the stairs
* We quickly drove home and he ran up the stairs

I have not, in fact, been saying the natural position for adverbs is always at the end of sentences. I've been saying the natural order for sentences is subject, verb, object(s), adverbs. Things can change if there are no objects. Then you have the verb and adverb adjacent, and some adverbs are more natural before verbs while others are more natural after.

I think a lot of the confusion in this discussion - beyond the fact that adverb placement is inherently very confusing - is I've been stating where adverbs and adverbial expressions are usually placed, but the only examples others are considering are adverbs ending in -ly. There is much more flexibility about where -ly adverbs may be placed than other adverbial expressions. For example, would you consider putting the adverbs of place before the verb in the above examples in the same way you consider is acceptable for -ly adverbs?

I mean, do these sound okay to you?
* We home drove quickly
* he up the stairs ran
I think not!

Then - if you're interested - there's a Royal Order of Adverbs too for multiple adverb (or phrases) at the end of sentences. The typical order is manner, place, frequency, time, and purpose; with the more specific first with more than one in the same category. While a typical for those does exist, more flexibility tends to be possible before things start sounding off.

BlacKnight

@Ernest Bywater

I wonder if they say the same when you make it less active and more passive to have:

It was a drive quick home.

or

It was a quick drive home.

Adjectives are not adverbs.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@BlacKnight

Adjectives are not adverbs.


Never said they were. However, the change between active to passive should just change the word and not the word order.

In the original post i did ask if maybe things were being taught different in the USA to here, and the report from Dictionary.com makes it seem that there's more than just a spelling difference in the use of English between countries.

Replies:   BlacKnight  Ross at Play
Centaur

ing about at that time, thus the nit pickers jumped in and went to town on the off the cuff types of errors I mentioned. The most worrying aspect is the type of error is consistent by the few authors who do it. Here's an example from a story on SoL. I'll post other examples as I find them (if I remember to).

Original: - We drove quickly home.

What I was taught it should be: - We quickly drove home.

This sort of word order is common enough to make me wonder if it's being taught that way to students in some places in the USA.


Just my 2 cents, but this seems to be a dialog or 1st POV. which would could be attributed to regional speech that you have mentioned in other posts. If you have a 1st person dialog with a Texas slang shouldn't the 1st person narrative also be with at Texas slang instead of oxford correct.

BlacKnight
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Never said they were. However, the change between active to passive should just change the word and not the word order.


You didn't merely change the sentence from active to passive. You changed the entire structure of the sentence, including the part of speech of the critical words. "Quickly" is an adverb. "Drove" is a verb. "Quick" is an adjective. "Drive" is (in this case) a noun. If you understand that an adjective is not the same thing as an adverb, why are you expecting an adjective-noun combination to work the same way and follow the same rules as a verb-adverb combination?

A simple switch from active to passive voice would look like: "We were driven quickly home."

Banadin
Updated:

If the reader understands what you are trying to communicate and it rolls smoothly if read out loud, who cares?

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The two instantly were in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

Instantly, the two were in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

or

The two were instantly in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

Did they both teleport into the kitchen while making supper? Frankly, "instantly" doesn't fit ANY of those sentences, because cooking (and appearing) aren't things that happen instantly. :(

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde

@Banadin

If the reader understands what you are trying to communicate and it rolls smoothly if read out loud, who cares?


Because sometimes, if you word it wrong, the reader will misinterpret what you wrote, like with misplaced modifiers.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Grant

@Ernest Bywater

Original: - We drove quickly home.

I'd have put it as "We drove home quickly", "We quickly drove home" being second choice. Wouldn't use the original version.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

EB, I assure you that every statement in BlacKnight's last post is correct.

You are not using terms correctly when you describe 'It was a quick drive home' as "less active and more passive". In fact, the regular tenses of verbs always have either the active voice or the passive voice. There's no 'more' or 'less' possible with either term.

I would describe that version of the sentence as being 'indirect'. It changed a sentence with a subject performing an action into one where an activity was merely described. I would grant, however, it is a type of sentence construction that should (often) be treated by authors with the same level of disdain as actual passive verbs.

I don't want to harp on it, but I am subjected to -- note, that's a genuine passive verb -- a whole lot of heartache here simply because people do not understand what some terms mean.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Banadin

If the reader understands what you are trying to communicate and it rolls smoothly if read out loud, who cares?


If it did that I wouldn't care at all. However, it reads wrong to me, and a few others I've read it to, and we all have to stop to be sure of what they meant. Thus it created a beak in the reading of that section of the narrative.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Did they both teleport into the kitchen while making supper?


Not sure how he meant it, but I took it to mean the two people became immediate friends and went to the kitchen to get to know each other better without the others around, and were doing so by cooking something for dinner.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Here's another example of the sort of word order issue I've been talking about. Again, the original and then as how I've been taught to write it - but with the minimal changes to do so.

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but I want to drive us toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri meanwhile.

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but I want to drive us toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri.

or

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that. Meanwhile, I want to drive us toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri.

At first read I'm not sure if the meanwhile in the original is for the whole sentence or just half. So I have to stop and re-read it to make sense of it. Not a good thing to have happen while reading a story.

edit to add: As I said in the original post - I see these usages by different authors and so often I suspect it's due to them being taught to do it that way.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but I want to drive us toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri meanwhile.

... I'm not sure if the meanwhile ... is for the whole sentence or just half.

As written, the meanwhile only applies to the part of the sentence beginning with becoming. That doesn't make sense. The OxD meaning of meanwhile is while something else is happening. But, if it only applies to the end of the sentence, then it's saying one event happens at the same time as something else - without specifying anything else.

The reason it only applies to that part of the sentence is that everything from becoming is a 'gerund phrase'. They function as a noun within the entire sentence. You can see that is so by replacing the entire gerund phrase with a simple noun phrase, e.g.

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but I want to drive us toward our primary goal.

Within the gerund phrase, becoming is its 'head' which functions as a verb that may have objects and/or be modified by adverbs. With no comma or other separator to end the gerund phrase, everything which could be connected to the head verb will be interpreted by readers as being connected to it. The components of the gerund phrase are:
* becoming: the head word, functioning as a verb
* one of the best law firms: a noun phrase, and the direct object of becoming
* in Missouri: an adverbial phrase defining place, modifying becoming
* meanwhile: an adverb defining time, modifying becoming

That meanwhile could be interpreted by readers as an adverb modifying becoming is apparent if it is replaced with another adverb modifying time. The sentence does make sense if it was replaced with 'later', i.e.

... but I want to drive us toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri later.

So, EB ... Yes, that is a crappy sentence. The only place meanwhile can make sense is in the position the author wrote 'but'.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but I want to drive us meanwhile toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but I want to drive us meanwhile toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri.

That version, with 'meanwhile' after 'us', sounds wrong to me. It places an adverb in between the direct object of 'drive', 'us', and the indirect object.

The indirect object consists of the preposition 'toward' plus its noun phrase, the gerund phrase from 'becoming' to the end of the sentence.

Replies:   robberhands  robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but I want to meanwhile drive us toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri.

You like that better?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

You like that better?

No, I don't.

I don't think it's always wrong to place an adverb between the objects of a verb, or even splitting an infinitive as you just did. For example, your first attempt to annoy me has the same structure as '... I give this now to you'. I don't like that either but I couldn't say it was wrong.

I think it's the meaning of 'meanwhile' that is limiting the positions it may be placed. It specifies one thing happens at the same time as something else, and the natural place for something doing that is between those two things.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I think it's the meaning of 'meanwhile' that is limiting the positions it may be placed.

In this sentence, I'd also prefer 'meanwhile' as an introductory phrase.

I've been spending all the profits on expansion and building, and we might continue to do that, but meanwhile, I want to drive us toward becoming one of the best law firms in Missouri.

robberhands
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I'm sorry I annoyed you, but I was annoyed myself by your verbose reply to one of EB's obscure examples, which prove absolutely nothing.

Replace the noun phrase of the sentence with a simple noun. At best, cut off the preposition as well. Now you'll see what I mean, I hope.

'... but I want to drive us 'home'.


'Meanwhile' can be placed practically anywhere after the 'but', and it will be a grammatically correct sentence, hardly changing the meaning of it.

It's always the same. EB states 'in proper English, adverbs must be placed before the modified verb'. Then he gives some examples - preferably using adjectives instead of adverbs. If that doesn't convince anyone, then next he gives some other dubious examples, which have nothing to do with his primal grammatical allegation. It's damn easy to fuck up a long sentence, even without it becoming grammatically incorrect.

Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

one of EB's obscure examples, which prove absolutely nothing.


Each of the original examples I've posted in this thread are from a story by a well read author at SoL and not made up by me. The story these are all from was posted in Oct. 2016 and has 126,269 downloads with 2,775 votes. So they aren't all that obscure.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

I don't doubt that at all. But what does it prove?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

I don't doubt that at all. But what does it prove?


It proves your comment about the example I gave isn't made by me and it isn't obscure, they way you said it was. While they weren't isolated examples from that story, they were some of the more obvious examples.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

Your examples are obscure because they don't support your claim that an adverb must be placed before the modified verb. It's irrelevant whether another author wrote them or you invented them yourself.

Ernest Bywater

I don't doubt that at all. But what does it prove?


In this thread all I've said is the word order makes it hard to read, and the examples show why. The cause is the modifier is not where it is obvious what it's modifying. However, it seems you have a bee in your bonnet about other things and are taking any opportunity to jump up and down about it.

I've given three examples in this thread which are common types of writing events in the story I just read, and in some other stories I've read. Do you claim the originals are better than the versions that align with what I was taught and gave as a variant with the original?

The issue I'm raising is one I've seen from only a few authors, all of whom are from the USA, which is why I wondered if it was something they were being taught to do that's different to what I was taught.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

Others have already said all there is to say about your first examples. I only commented on your last example.

In your first revised version of the sentence in question, you simply dropped the 'meanwhile' and the issue altogether. Solving exactly what?

In your second improved version, you made two sentences out of the original one sentence. That surely solved the problem of a long sentence. But what does it have to do with the 'correct order of words'?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

In your second improved version, you made two sentences out of the original one sentence. That surely solved the problem of a long sentence. But what does it have to do with the 'correct order of words'?


In the third example I split the sentence and moved the meanwhile from the end of the sentence to the start of the second sentence - or did the change in word order there escape your notice?

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

No, I didn't miss it. You made 'meanwhile' an introductory phrase, applying to the entire clause after the comma. Do you think an introductory phrase is an example of a word order issue?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

I was annoyed myself by your verbose reply to one of EB's obscure examples

I would concede to having provided more details than needed in that post - but 'verbose' is not quite the same thing.

Verbose to me suggests using more words than necessary to explain details. I generally put in efforts trying to find succinct ways to express the detail I choose to cover. I'm not perfect at that but I think I'm better than most. It's not always easy when I'm trying to be precise in my explanations. And I'm not just trying to identify grammatically correct or not. Within the span of acceptable grammar I try to identify what are preferred and poor style choices.

Note that some of my answers to EB are not really intended for his enlightenment - which often seems like a lost cause. They're often intended for the the benefit of others who may appreciate my posts.

Still, considering how you two are getting on, I'd gladly send you both a jerrycan of petrol and a box of matches.

Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

Do you think an introductory phrase is an example of a word order issue?


Moving the word from the end of the sentence to a point 15 words earlier in the sentence is a word order change fixing a word order issue in the original format. However, that seems a bit beyond your capability to understand because it doesn't find your agenda to bitch about things.

awnlee jawking

meanwhile


I'm not sure meanwhile is a good word in the first place.

I believe the connotations are:

1) X does A until X does B.
2) X does A at the same time as Y does B.

X doing A and B simultaneously doesn't seem quite right for 'meanwhile'.

FWIW, I read the story when it first came out and enjoyed it. IMO the author's style is unpolished but nonetheless enjoyable.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

FWIW, I read the story when it first came out and enjoyed it. IMO the author's style is unpolished but nonetheless enjoyable.


Never said it was a bad story, just that I had issues with how some of it was written making it hard to stay focused on the story. I liked it. The real concern is it isn't as polished as most of his earlier works.

sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

Original: - We drove quickly home.
What I was taught it should be: - We quickly drove home.


Been busy hence the delay.

I read those two phrases as having different indications.

We quickly drove home suggests that something has happened to cause then to start home immediately but does not indicate velocity

To me the second phrase indicates velocity

Replies:   Ross at Play
Uther_Pendragon

@Ernest Bywater


The two instantly were in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

Instantly, the two were in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires.

or

The two were instantly in the kitchen making something from both of their repertoires


I definitely do not like the first. My ear -- and I do grammar by ear rather than by eye -- simply rejects it.

The third is what I consider natural order.

The comma in the second demonstrates that it is not the natural order; putting the adverb first EMPHASIZES the time.

Uther_Pendragon

@Ross at Play

@Ross at Play

I think this thread is counterproductive. It initiates a discussion about something for which there is no analytical answer.

And a reference which supports that ...

This is the opening sentence of a page titled 'Order of Adverbs' at thefreedictionary.com:

Because adverbs are used to modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, phrases, clauses, or even entire sentences, they are able to function nearly anywhere in the sentence, depending on their type and what it is they are modifying.

Sir, I do not believe your quotation supports your conclusion.
"they are able to function nearly anywhere in the sentence, depending on their type and what it is they are modifying. "
Says that an adverb can go nearly anywhere IF that adverb has a sense that that placement justifies.

"They ran quickly until they collapsed," and they ran until they quickly collapsed," both are properly written sentences. They do not mean anything like the same.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@sejintenej

I read those two phrases as having different indications.


Thanks. I think you've noticed a point that is very important.

As best I can figure out, the preferred placement for adverbial words/phrases is not only tricky, but they may be divided into two distinct classes: adverbs ending in -ly and other adverbial words/phrases.

I think ... the other types of adverbial expressions always modify the verb of the clause which contains them. That means they may be some distance from the verb without any ambiguity about what they are modifying. That is definitely needed because there may be multiple adverbs all modifying the same verb. Those adverbs are usually placed at the end of the clause, but if particularly important they may be shifted to the front.

I think -ly adverbs are different. Firstly, they can modify other parts of speech besides verbs. Also, it seems they always modify the following word/expression. Surely that's the reason behind the existence of the rule about there being no need to hyphenate compound adjectives containing an adverb ending in -ly!

I can now see some logic in what EB says he was taught about the placement of adverbs. Perhaps the real point his teachers were making was it's always safe to place adverbs ending in -ly before a verb when that's what they are modifying. It would be wise to adopt that as a routine practice because doing otherwise may risk an ambiguity if an adverb ending in -ly was unwittingly placed before some other part of speech those adverbs can modify.

That would mean what EB's been saying is sound advice, except that he's been missing the point it only applies to adverbs in -ly, rather than all adverbs.

I've come around to the view there is something worthwhile in what EB says he you were taught - but he's missing an important detail. I suspect that details is it only applied to adverbs ending in -ly.

I'll keep an eye out for relevant examples and reopen this thread if I think I've discovered anything worth mentioning.

Meanwhile, EB, I suggest a rewording of "your rule" which is less likely to provoke negative responses here:

The safest position for adverbs ending in -ly which are modifying a verb is immediately before the verb.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

The safest position for adverbs ending in -ly which are modifying a verb is immediately before the verb.


I wish you'd use smileys when making jokes :(

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I wish you'd use smileys when making jokes :(

That was NO JOKE!

It was a carefully considered statement of what I believe is important advice for authors who care about the clarity of their writing.

I made clear that it was an interim conclusion of my analysis. I will continue trying to verifying it, but I feel comfortable stating it now because I'm pretty confident following it will not cause harm, even if I have not yet figured out the complete story.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

That was NO JOKE!


But you put an adverb ending in -ly immediately after a verb.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


his teachers were making was it's always safe to place adverbs ending in -ly before a verb when that's what they are modifying.


— He ran quickly. —

The "ly" adverb is after the verb it's modifying and just fine there.

Be a better writer and replace the "ly" adverb with a stronger verb (e.g., He dashed). Problem solved.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

But you put an adverb ending in -ly immediately after a verb

... and provided an example of why my point is important.

The 'immediately' is immediately before the 'before' it modifies. :-)

Or, if I'm not trying to be a smartarse and look for the most confusing wording possible ...

That's because 'immediately' modifies 'before' rather than 'is'. It is placed before the word it modifies.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

— He ran quickly. —

The "ly" adverb is after the verb it's modifying and just fine there.

One of numerous exceptions to this "rule" which I'm sure do exist. Obviously, one of them will be that when -ly adverbs are adjacent to the verbs they modify, some feel more natural after the verb despite the fact that most feel more natural before. That would be more likely when sentences are so simple there's nothing else the adverb could be modifying, thus no chance of ambiguity.

And, the -ly adverbs are still adverbs. There will surely be many occasions when it sounds better to place them in the usual position for (other) adverbs, i.e. at the end of a clause or at the start if they are particularly important.

Frankly, I don't give a damn if others here are more interested in finding nitpicks than learning something new. I think I'll start responding "So what?" to every post purporting to disprove the theory by quoting one exception.

BlacKnight

Maybe just stop making up grammar "rules".

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@BlacKnight

Maybe just stop making up grammar "rules".

In this case, I did not make up the rule: it was something EB's teachers taught him.

His statement of what he was taught is surely incomplete, but I believe there is something valid in what he was taught. That is what I'm trying to figure out: how to narrow down the conditions in his previous statement to the point it becomes a valid description of some tendency.

I certainly wouldn't consider it a "rule". I've already cited a reference on this thread which explains why the placement the adverbs is so complex there is nothing that could be considered a rule, at best, there can only be general tendencies. I think examining those general tendencies, and in particular why they exist, is a topic worthy of discussion here. I would like to discuss it constructively. I expect a deal of nitpicking but I won't waste my efforts combating those.

Ross at Play
Updated:

An observation ... I've come across a few examples which suggest the verb 'be' may be an exception. I suspect that -ly adverbs might usually sound more natural after forms of 'be' than before.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Because sometimes, if you word it wrong, the reader will misinterpret what you wrote, like with misplaced modifiers.

I agree. If you do break the commonly accepted standards, then there's better be an outstanding reason for doing so.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I would describe that version of the sentence as being 'indirect'. It changed a sentence with a subject performing an action into one where an activity was merely described. I would grant, however, it is a type of sentence construction that should (often) be treated by authors with the same level of disdain as actual passive verbs.

I agree Ross, though it's a mistake that I often make myself. While it's common to think of the two issues similarly, I suspect we need a new term which combines both, just so we can more commonly discuss them without misstating the grammatical facts. "Indirect phrasing" comes close, but it doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ross at Play

The safest position for adverbs ending in -ly which are modifying a verb is immediately before the verb.

I was clear above that I considered this "rule", which is definitely not a rule, as a work-in-progress.

I have had some more thought on it.

It is wrong to have used the word 'safest' in that statement. I would that statement to:

It is usually safe to place adverbs ending in -ly which are modifying a verb is immediately before the verb.

There's usually another safe place too, along with any other adverb (phrases), after any objects of the verb, at the end of the clause.

I suspect there are no rules for whether or not before the verb sounds better than at the end of the sentence. I think that will depend on what adverb and/or what verb are being used.

-Ly adverbs will usually be the first if multiple adverb (phrases) are present at the end of a clause. That's because they usually define manner, and according to the Royal Order of Adverbs, adverbs of manner usually sound natural before those of any other category.

I said above that it seems the verb 'be' is an exception, and -ly adverbs generally sound better after any form of 'be' verb. I suspect the reason for that is simply that 'be' verbs can never be modified -ly adverbs. I think you can never describe the manner that something exists; you can only ever say 'It is' ... I'll have to think more about that one.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I suspect the reason for that is simply that 'be' verbs can never be modified -ly adverbs. I think you can never describe the manner that something exists; you can only ever say 'It is' ... I'll have to think more about that one.

I thought, "What about 'I would happily be ...'?", for example, 'I would happily be shot for saying that'.

That's not using the 'be' verb. 'Shot' is a past participle, so the 'be shot' in that is a passive tense of the verb 'shoot'.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Be a better writer and replace the "ly" adverb with a stronger verb (e.g., He dashed)? Problem solved.

Dashardly Dolittle? (for those who remember the old cartoons from the 60s)

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

"Indirect phrasing" comes close, but it doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

The closest existing terminology I know of is 'filter verbs'. The way sentences are constructed is very close to those. But I dislike that term even more than 'indirect'.

It is ghastly, but if I had to choose an expression it would be 'redirecting verbs'. That at least seems to describe what passive verbs, filter verbs, and many 'It/There is/was' sentences all do. It at least seems to prompt to right question for all of those: have you chosen the best subject for this sentence?

Ernest Bywater

Just found another example where the word order looks weird to me. This isn't the first time the author did this in this story, but it an example that made go WTF and read it thrice and not twice. The first half of the dialogue paragraph was a list of who's doing what in the raid.

We have about a hundred total people, so we should be okay.

My immediate thought was to wonder how many half people and quarter people they had.

I think it may have gone better as:

All up we have about a hundred people, so we should be okay.

or

We have about a hundred people in total, so we should be okay.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

We have about a hundred total people, so we should be okay.

I agree that is poor grammar. I don't think the noun phrase 'a hundred people' should be divided like that. I think that entire phrase needs to be modified - as both of your suggested alternatives do.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
richardshagrin

Maybe some of their people aren't complete so they aren't "total people". Some could be amputees, eunuchs, or missing appendixes, gall bladders or tonsils.

robberhands
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

We have about a hundred total people, so we should be okay.

You found another erroneous sentence and you might even call it a 'word order mistake', but do you seriously believe the author was taught to place 'total' between 'a hundred' and 'people'? No one, not even the author, would regard this as anything but a simple mistake.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

But the original is one word shorter, therefore it must be cleaner, stronger and whiter, with healthier gums. ;)

AJ

helmut_meukel

Here is one where I stumbled:

We knew where all of the caves, and the spring fed pools where fish were and where animals came to drink were.


I tried to understand what was meant and came up with:
"We knew where all of the caves and the spring fed pools were, where fish were and where animals came to drink."

I only changed the position of one word and the comma.

BTW, it's from a well known story here on SOL, posted in 2012 and updated in 2014.

HM.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

I tried to understand what was meant and came up with:
"We knew where all of the caves and the spring fed pools were, where fish were and where animals came to drink."


I don't think that's quite correct. The fish and drinking animals are subordinate only to the spring-fed pools, not the caves.

AJ

helmut_meukel

@awnlee jawking

The fish and drinking animals are subordinate only to the spring-fed pools,


I've thought about this, but fish and drinking animals can be found not only at pools but also in/at creeks, so I guessed the sentence was meant as enumeration of shelter, water and food resources in the area.

HM.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

No one, not even the author, would regard this as anything but a simple mistake.


Yet he does this sort of thing consistently, nor is he the only author to do this type of what I was taught is an error. This example was the most extreme I've seen in this story so far, but, as I said, it's a common issue throughout the story.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

Yet he does this sort of thing consistently, nor is he the only author to do this type of what I was taught is an error.

I don't know which story and author you are referring to, so I can't comment on that. Are you deducing from the frequency of the mistakes that the author and maybe others as well, don't view your given example as an error?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Are you deducing from the frequency of the mistakes that the author and maybe others as well, don't view your given example as an error?


I suspect that the author writes very colloquially, and the sentence in question is something they would actually say, although with emphases not conveyed by the punctuation. So the author probably wouldn't consider it an error.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I suspect that the author writes very colloquially,


Maybe, but he rarely uses contractions and the other short cuts colloquial authors use. The frequency of this type of usage is high enough that I'm fairly sure he doesn't see it as an error, and he's not the only author I've seen write this way. That's why I wonder if it's how they were taught, which is very different from what I was taught.

If I posted every such usage I saw this thread would be up over a thousand posts, which is why I only posted this more extreme example.

Replies:   REP
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

I don't want to doubt your suspicion but would like to know at which place people colloquially babble nonsense.

awnlee_jawking

@robberhands

but would like to know at which place people colloquially babble nonsense


It's called real life. People actually use sound and communicate face-to-face, rather than by text message. ;)

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I don't think that's quite correct. The fish and drinking animals are subordinate only to the spring-fed pools, not the caves.

I think that's what the author intended with the placement of the comma, but it leaves the first clause with no verb. I think that meaning is shown by:

We knew where all of the caves were, and the spring-fed pools where fish were and animals came to drink.

That is also one word shorter than the original, and therefore cleaner, stronger and whiter, and with healthier gums.

I think this is even better:

We knew where all of the caves were, and the spring-fed pools with fish where animals came to drink.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee_jawking

Total, we have about a hundred people, ...

We have about a hundred people, total, ...

We have total about about a hundred people ...

I'd accept all these as 'colloqially okay'. Practically the only place where you can't place the 'total' is between 'a hundred' and 'people' because the result is nonsense, regardless whether it's a story, real life, or a text message.

Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

I don't want to doubt your suspicion but would like to know at which place people colloquially babble nonsense.


I don't like saying negative things about authors or stories in the forum, so I sent you the story title and author in a private message.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

Even shorter:

We knew all the caves and the spring-fed pools with fish, where animals came to drink.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@helmut_meukel

I guessed the sentence was meant as enumeration of shelter, water and food resources in the area.

You need a three-element list for that kind of meaning, so the form shows the function. Something like:
"We knew where all of the caves were, and the spring-fed pools, and where the fish were and animals came to drink."

Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

Even shorter:
We knew all the caves and the spring-fed pools with fish, where animals came to drink.

ETA: The following paragraph contains a mistake. The words 'complex subject' should be 'complex direct object'.

Your extra cuts are an improvement. But that sentence has a complex subject, 'all the caves and the spring-fed pools with fish'. It means the animals came to drink in the caves too. I think it needs to be:

We knew all the caves, and the spring-fed pools with fish where animals came to drink.

It is valid, and generally correct, to place multiple prepositional phrases, i.e. 'with fish' and 'where animals came to drink', at the end of a clause without any commas or conjunctions.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

It is valid, and generally correct, to place multiple prepositional phrases, i.e. 'with fish' and 'where animals came to drink', at the end of a clause without any commas or conjunctions.

I concede, the comma was a mistake. Why not just leave the sentence without any comma?

We knew all the caves and the spring-fed pools with fish where animals came to drink.

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

Why not just leave the sentence without any comma?

The comma is needed to identify the scope of the prepositional phrase 'where animals came to drink'.

Consider the sentence without that phrase.

You could have:

We knew all the caves and the spring-fed pools with fish.

Everything after the verb 'knew' in that sentence is direct object the verb. If you simply tack the prepositional phrase on the end it applies to everything in the direct object.

Placing a comma after 'caves' creates a complex sentence with two clauses joined by a conjunction. The parallel means the second clause begins with an inferred 'We knew all'. When the prepositional phrase is tacked on the end it is now restricted to the second clause. .

Replies:   robberhands
REP

@robberhands

Why not just leave the sentence without any comma


It is a list of 3 known locations. The use of an Oxford comma might make the sentence clearer.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

I guess you're grammatically right. Personally I don't care about grammar where logic dictates the correct meaning of a sentence. Animals don't drink at caves and no comma can change that.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP

@Ernest Bywater

That's why I wonder if it's how they were taught


Personally, I think it is a combination of 'tunnel vision' and poor proofreading.

We all have a concept in mind that we are trying to put into words. Sometimes the words we write do not convey the mental concept accurately. If we focus on the mental concept when proofing instead of what we wrote, it is easy to miss that the written passage doesn't convey the mental concept.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@REP

We all have a concept in mind that we are trying to put into words. Sometimes the words we write do not convey the mental concept accurately. If we focus on the mental concept when proofing instead of what we wrote, it is easy to miss that the written passage doesn't convey the mental concept.

That is pretty much the answer I was looking for to respond to robberhands post just above yours. It is true that most readers interpret most sentences in the way the author intended. I don't think it's a particularly difficult task for authors to construct sentences which actually mean what they intend ... but it needs some care when proofing.

awnlee jawking
Updated:

@robberhands

I guess you're grammatically right.


No, he's wrong. Putting a comma before the 'and' would signify an independent clause.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP
Switch Blayde
Updated:

For a group that espouses it's all about the story and that grammar and punctuation don't matter, you sure turned critical. Don't get me wrong, I agree. Simply surprised.

Poor grammar and punctuation will ruin a good story.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Putting a comma before the 'and' would signify an independent clause.

Please quote some reference to justify that claim.

AFAIK, some "authorities", but not all, insist that a comma is needed with two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction, but that style does not insist that two clauses joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction implies the second clause must be independent.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP

@awnlee jawking

It is a list of 3 known locations. The use of an Oxford comma might make the sentence clearer.


I disagree. As i said earlier,

It (the sentence) is a list of 3 known locations. The use of an Oxford comma might make the sentence clearer.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@REP

It (the sentence) is a list of 3 known locations. The use of an Oxford comma might make the sentence clearer.

You need three elements performing the same grammatical function to use Oxford commas. That is not so in the version of the sentence you made that comment about, i.e. when robberhands suggested:

We knew all the caves and the spring-fed pools with fish where animals came to drink.

There are only two locations mentioned in the sentence, 'the caves' and 'the spring-fed pools'. The phrase 'where animals came to drink' is not a location. It is a descriptive phrase providing added information about a previously mentioned location.

Grammatically, the two locations are mentioned in clauses within the main body of the sentence, The "third location" is a subordinate phrase dependent on another clause. Thus, there are only items in the list so no Oxford commas.

Harold Wilson

@Ernest Bywater

See this page, which contains rules that explicitly proscribe the "drove quickly" form:

http://www.grammar.cl/Notes/Adverbs.htm

However, adverbs are never positioned between the verb and the object.

I read the book quickly. - (Correct)
I read quickly the book. - (Incorrect)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Harold Wilson

http://www.grammar.cl/Notes/Adverbs.htm

I had a look at that site. It's intended to help those learning English as a second language, and as such, may tend to oversimplify matters. It tends to describe some things as rules which "always" or "never" apply. While generally correct, I doubt things are as black or white as the site implies.

Accepting that caveat, I think you have found the "missing ingredient" when EB has stated he was taught that adverbs cannot be placed after a verb. I suspect what his teachers tried to teach was that adverbs cannot be placed between a verb and an object.

I note that the site also says elsewhere that the verb 'to be' is something of an exception. It says that adverbs of frequency are usually placed before the verb, but for the verb 'to be' they are placed after.

Ross at Play

An active thread, titled 'Unearned Epilogues', has mysteriously vanished from my Author's Hangout display.

I can still get to it, here, using the option to search all forum posts.

I've sent a bug report to the webmaster. I don't know if others have a similar problem. Just in case I have posted a working link to it here.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

'Unearned Epilogues', has mysteriously vanished


I posted to that thread and deleted my post almost immediately. I wonder if a bug caused the thread to get deleted.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I posted to that thread and deleted my post almost immediately. I wonder if a bug caused the thread to get deleted.

Thanks SB. I think there is a bug but it's okay now.

I just made a test post to that thread and it reappeared on my Author's Hangout display.

To Lazeez, I think there is a bug somewhere in the system and it appears that it may be triggered by someone deleting the last post on the thread.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/comma-before-and/

http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive/020204whencommabfand.htm

You can put a comma before 'and' when it's part of a list or when it's coordinating two independent clauses.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I have respect for the two reference sites you cited, grammarly.com and getitwriteonline.com.

I agree with what you say, and they suggest, as the general principle: commas should usually be used when joining two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction. Both sources note the comma may be omitted when the independent clauses are very short.

I also agree that a comma is not needed when the second clause is not independent because the second clause is implied to have the same subject as the first.

I cannot agree that is mandatory for informal writing. Many here bemoan that the rules of formal writing force writers to use too many commas. I find the exact reverse of that is true. I often feel obliged when writing formally to omit commas before coordinating conjunctions which I would generally use. I always find it hard to bring myself to omit a comma before 'but'.

I cannot think of an example where a writer would be forced to disregard that principle when it is only the subject being implied in the second, independent clause.

I do not think that holds when both the subject and verb are implied in the second clause. I think the sentence we were considering is one where the writer is forced to disregard the general principle.

The reason in this case is that the second clause implies the same subject and the same transitive verb, i.e. both clauses have an object of the verb. With no comma to separate them, the two objects are joined by the coordinating conjunction and become one complex object of the verb. The sentence no longer has two clauses, but one.

That would still usually be okay. That does not create any problems unless there are other phrases which only apply to one of the two components of the complex object.

I think our example sentence is a rare exception. In this case, without a comma to separate the two objects of the verb, this sentence has only only one clause, and it would mean animals go to drink in both the caves and the pools.

We knew all the caves, and the spring-fed pools with fish where animals came to drink.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Rather than ignore the rules of English, perhaps it would be better to rewrite the sentence. That's usually the best way of dealing with cases where the rules mean that however you punctuate a sentence, the meaning is unclear - for example, that's occasionally the case when using the traditional UK English way of delimiting a list, without a serial comma.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

dealing with cases where the rules mean that however you punctuate a sentence, the meaning is unclear

I see no point in arguing anymore if you cannot see that the comma merely serves to prevent the creation of an unwanted compound object.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I see no point in arguing anymore if you cannot see that the comma merely serves to prevent the creation of an unwanted compound object.


But it is a 'wanted' compound object - of the verb 'know'. The problem is how to uncompound it afterwards. It's better to rewrite the sentence completely than try to make the sentence serve two masters by writing bad English.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

Here's another example of word order where what I was taught seems to be different to what is taught in the USA. A couple of US authors do this on a regular basis, especially with the word 'though,' and the author of the story the example is from does it a lot. That's why I think it may be a teaching issue.

Example as is:

I think he's out flying today though.

How I was trained it should be:

Though I think he's out flying today.

Every time I see it with the though at the end I have to take a moment to workout why the next sentence isn't part of the first sentence.

robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

'Though' can be used as a conjunction as well as an adverb.

Conjunction: Though I think he's out flying today.

Adverb: I think he's out flying today, though.

Both sentences are gramatically correct.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@robberhands


Both sentences are gramatically correct.


Technically, your examples are correct, thought the 2nd is only correct with the comma in it. The original had no comma. Usually when you see though at the end of the phrase it's usually just before a 2nd phrase so you would expect something like:

I think he's out flying today, though he could be down the river fishing.

Where you see something like:

I think he's out flying today, though.

You would expect the next sentence to be related to the phrase before though and part of that sentence. In the example I gave the next sentence was totally unrelated to the sentence with the word though in it.

edit to add: The main issue I have with the things I'm mentioning is that it drops the reader out of the story for a moment to make sense of that sentence - that is not good.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

You would expect the next sentence to be related to the phrase before though and part of that sentence.

I would not expect the next sentence to be related, I'd expect the prevoious sentence to be related.

Merriam-Webster online:

though, adverb - used when you are saying something that is different from or contrasts with a previous statement.

Example: He's been quiet. Not for long, though.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

Example: I think he's out flying today though.

I agree that though, with a meaning similar to however, cannot be placed as the final word of that statement.

I would view it differently with a comma before the though. To me, the primary statement would then have been ended and the though would be an exclamation with a meaning similar to resignation.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

I would not expect the next sentence to related, I'd expect the prevoious sentence to be related.

I don't think either of you is wrong. I think you're both saying that though with it's usual meaning belongs between two related statements.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

That's not the point. 'Though' always regards a previous statement, never a following one.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

'Though' always regards a previous statement, never a following one.

That's not the same as what you said before. Both 'regards' and 'related to' mean in a specific direction, while 'related' means the same in both directions.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I would not expect the next sentence to be related, I'd expect the prevoious sentence to be related.

That's what I wrote as comment to EB's:

You would expect the next sentence to be related to the phrase before though and part of that sentence.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

I give up. My point was that the meanings of 'related' and 'related to' may be different.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@Ross at Play

Then how do you interprete EB's statement?

You would expect the next sentence to be related to the phrase before though and part of that sentence.


Now take these three sentences:

He's been quiet. Not for long, though. We went home when he spoke again.

According to EB, he'd expect 'though' to be related to 'We went home'. That's the point I object.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

Then how do you interprete EB's statement?
You would expect the next sentence to be related to the phrase before 'though' and part of that sentence.

That would make sense to me if 'next sentence' is replaced with 'next statement', i.e. "part of" the current sentence.

I think he made a typo there.

He's been quiet. Not for long, though. We went home when he spoke gain.

I think that is okay. I explained above why I think the comma before 'though' changes it into an exclamation, rather than its more common use to identify how two statements are related.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

The first two sentences (Yes, even the one without subject and verb) are from Merriam-Webster, not EB. I added the third sentence to make my point and I made the typo to miss the 'a' in 'again'.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

The first two sentences [are not from] EB.

I realised that. The reasons I 'explained above' apply equally to his example and your new example: a comma then though to end a sentence is okay because it becomes an exclamation.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@robberhands

Merriam-Webster

I looked at that and dictionary.com. Both suggest its primary use is as a conjunction but it may also be used as an adverb.

I'm not comfortable with the example as an adverb in Merriam-Webster.

It's hard work. I enjoy it though

That's basically the same as the first example EB says he objects to. I dislike both without a comma before though.

Perhaps this is an Australian thing? It sounds wrong to my ear as an adverb at the end of a sentence, though Merriam-Webster says that is okay.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I'm neither an Australian, nor an US American or a Brit. I don't mind 'though' at the end of a clause but prefer to set it apart with a comma. Not because I think of it as an exclamation but rather watch it as a successive phrase - as opposed to an introductory phrase, which is set apart by a comma as well. No idea whether there is a proper grammatical term for what I just called a succesive phrase.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

prefer to set it apart with a comma.


Much as I like to hate Merriam-Webster, I have to agree with them in this case.

Replace the 'though' with a synonym eg nonetheless.

"It's hard work. I enjoy it nonetheless."

It's not an exclamation and a comma is clearly unnecessary.

AJ

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

You may continue hating Merriam-Webster undeterred.

He's been quiet. Not for long, though.

These sentences are also from Merriam-Webster, and here they placed a comma before 'though' without any apparent reason or explanation.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I can envisage it being spoken both with and without a pause. Therefore I don't think it's wrong to either include or exclude the comma: it's a matter of how much emphasis the author wants to place on the 'though'.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

Agreed.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

"It's hard work. I enjoy it nonetheless."

That sounds fine to me. Nonetheless is only an adverb and sounds fine at the end of the sentence.

I concede the way I use though is not as dictionaries define it. I think I only ever use it with its more common usage, as a conjunction, and it just sounds wrong to me when used as an adverb.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

No idea whether there is a proper grammatical term for what I just called a succesive phrase.

I think the correct term is "parenthetic phrase". They are not always enclosed in parentheses. They may also be closed in pairs of commas or dashes, and one end of those pairs can be the start or end of a sentence instead.

The term covers any diversion away from a main clause of a sentence, including exclamations, asides, and nonrestrictive appositives. The point is both the start and end of the diversion must be identified by punctuation.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Here's some more examples of what cause me to pause and drop from a story while I work out exactly what they're trying to say. Because some people had issue with what it meant in context I'm extending the quoted text with some names cut to initials to allow the author some anonymity.

1. He said, "You gave that to us in the information we received this morning. I was wondering if you really meant that. I'm curious though as to how you will protect your patents on the products if you give them the means of creating the product."

I would have expected the though to be bracketed by commas with it where it is in the original. However, I would have had the though before I'm.

2. Morning was a total riot as the kids were hyped to go to Key West, but disappointed they wouldn't be home for motocross lessons. B was whining because she would miss her music lessons. She wanted all of it, and was upset that she couldn't make up her mind as to which was most important. K straightened her out though, as she said that staying home was not an option.

Again, I would have expected to start the sentence with though.

3. K said, "He may not reach S's number for a long time. L may have one, and maybe T1, but probably not for a long time. B will be good for one or two, and T2, probably just one. N may quit with one, but will probably have another. J though wants a bunch. F will probably stop with her twins. So you figure that's only about ten. We've got them beat with only four us and only three producers." That caused some laughs.

Again I would have expected to start the sentence with the though.

4. M1 grinned at me and said, "We'll take care of M2 though, won't we?"

Again another where I would expect though at the start of the sentence.

5. "I'll stop in on the way to work this morning. I need to stop in to see D at the center anyway. Your B has been a big help over there, even though he's in school. I can't believe the contributions he's made helping D, M, and G. They are constantly coming up with new items and improving stuff we already have."

This one is exactly where I would expect to see the though.

6. "You won't believe this, S, but everyone has been out here flying them and we have the time required. We're going to get a test flight observed and tear them down. The FAA will inspect the parts and we can put it all back together again. Take one up if you want, though. I really like the coupe with the instruments. I also put a big engine in it so it climbs out fast. I think we're going to try the variable prop on it next week."

I think this paragraph is better dropping the though completely. It's not clear if the though is meant to be related to the first sentence or the sentence after the though. It could make sense if the next sentence was part of the sentence with the though and not a new sentence.

7. When we came in, C woke immediately, saw it was us, and went back to sleep.

I would have expected the immediately before woke.

8. Soon G, M, C, and his ladies took the all of the kids out to the beach. The kids were instantly splashing in the surf and exploring for shells up and down the beach. The adults were doing a good job of watching the various groups, keeping the kids that were in the water near shore.

This is exactly where I expect the word instantly to be placed.

9. Some of the little kids were building big sandcastles and other buildings that were sort of recognizable. The important thing was they were having fun. The lifeguards came around and told every one that there were shark sightings near shore and would prefer for us to stay out of the water. All the kids would go out to the edge of the surf, stick their toes in the water, then run screaming away from the ocean.

Now I would have worded that last sentence as - All the kids would go out to the edge of the surf, stick their toes in the water, then run away from the ocean while screaming. - I'm not sure what style of a run screaming is, is it faster or slower than a normal run?

...................

This chapter had a lot of incidents in it.

Due to the way others are pulling up other references on what is and isn't allowed with the examples I'm posting, plus the frequency I'm seeing these come up, I'm starting to think they're due to a difference in the education system and what people are being taught as an OK way to use the language.

..............

Now before people start into long and lengthy debate about are the all proper or improper use of the language I wish to reiterate that the main purpose of me bringing these up is to point out to other authors how word order usage like these can confuse readers, drop them out of the story, and how it inhibits how much they can enjoy the story due to having to take time out to work out exactly what you do mean. So, please think about the way you write the words.

typo edit and to add: I included to examples of where they did what I would expect, and not what they usually do which upsets me.

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