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I am unable to understand the difference between these two sentences:

  1. I want him to bring down the opponents.
  2. I want him to bring the opponents down.

Which is right and when should each be used?

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marked as duplicate by tchrist, kiamlaluno, MετάEd, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Rory Alsop Apr 15 '13 at 9:45

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They mean essentially the same thing; sometimes, two-word phrasal verbs can be split up like that (in other words, sometimes you can split the two-word phrasal verb up). –  J.R. Apr 13 '13 at 1:43
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They are the two Dative Alternation forms on the lower clause. The I want him part is irrelevant, btw; the alternation applies in He brought his opponents down ~ He brought down his opponents. There is no difference in meaning in syntactic alternations. –  John Lawler Apr 13 '13 at 3:03
    
Any difference is only in the semantics, that is, the emphasis. –  Kris Apr 13 '13 at 7:53
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Related: “Put X down” vs. “put down X”, “Plugging in X” vs. “plugging X in”. And please do not end sentences in two periods. Where did you see that? Nobody ever does that. Nobody ever should. –  RegDwigнt Apr 13 '13 at 10:12
    
My goodness. Got that one wrong. Apologies. This is not Dative Alternation, as I said above, but Particle Shift (another alternation that swaps particle and object order in transitive phrasal verbs). It interacts with Dative sometimes, as in She tossed him up the ball. –  John Lawler Apr 13 '13 at 14:11

1 Answer 1

As already stated, these two mean the same thing. I wonder, however, if you also have in mind how they are used if they are part of a longer sentence. (Since you have two periods at the end of each example, it almost seems as if you intended an ellipsis to indicate that there is more to the sentences.)

This is of some importance, given that extending the sentences could potentially cause the two phrasings to become different in meaning. For example:

I want him to bring down the opponents, and show them they aren't all that special.

I want him to bring the opponents down to the stadium.

The difference here is obvious. (Admittedly, this may be nothing more than an interesting aside, if it does not actually have anything to do with your question.)

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