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For example:

I did not respond physically

I did not physically respond

I can't escape the sense that #2 'strongly' leaves open the possibility (or implies) that the writer responded some way other than physically.

Whereas, #1 seems to rule out physical response and does not imply some other form of response.

Maybe it's just me, or am I describing something that's been analyzed before (and perhaps given a name)

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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Kristina Lopez, jwpat7, aedia λ Jun 11 '13 at 20:41

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In your particular case it probably doesn't really make much difference - except that in the vast majority of cases, we'd follow the normal verb+adverb sequence. In something like "I spoke definitely" vs "I definitely spoke", there's definitely a difference. –  FumbleFingers Jun 6 '13 at 2:59
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It really depends on the adverb, and on the intonation as spoken. In writing, it's hard to tell what was intended. In general, if an adverb is in a less common place (like before a verb), it signals something. But what people might use it to signal is wide open, and must generally be inferred from the context and from experience with the speaker; guessed is probably a better term than inferred. Adverbs can nest in a lot of niches. –  John Lawler Jun 6 '13 at 3:02
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It works the other way around in "Christmas was not normally celebrated by our family" versus "Christmas was not celebrated normally by our family". Here the verb-adverb order strongly suggests that it was celebrated, but not in the normal way. –  Peter Shor Jun 6 '13 at 3:03
    
@John Lawler, you consider adverbs places -before- their verbs to be less common than those placed after their verb? –  Hal Jun 6 '13 at 10:33
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Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/9702/… –  KitFox Jun 7 '13 at 0:07

1 Answer 1

From a previous question, here are some rules of thumb.

I will state that your interpretations of the two sentences are correct. I believe the interpreted end result of moving the adverb before or after the verb will vary depending on the adverb and verb in question. And I think the differences are more apparent when the sentence is negative.

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