Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I just read this but it didn't sound too natural to me:

... trying to predict where they would all end up.

Maybe I'm wrong here but I thought that, in this case, all is changing they, so I'd have expected to see all before or after they; however, it seems that placing it before is completely wrong, while placing it after seems to be standard, but I don't know if it's correct.

Can anyone clarify this matter for me? Is there a particular rule at work here?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I see three variants as possible, and almost equivalent:

... trying to predict where they would end up.

... trying to predict where they would all end up.

... trying to predict where they all would end up.

The first of these is perhaps least problematic - it avoids the adverbial 'all' altogether. It also has the least implication that they'll all end up in the same place; it does not rule out different people in the 'they' going to different places.

The second of these might manage to have connotations that they will all end up in the same place (so a party of people might be going out to the same restaurant), and maybe the third manages to leave open the possibility that they would end up in different places (but you want to predict all of those places). However, that distinction is probably not really supported. I think they are essentially equivalent, which is why I classified 'all' as adverbial; adverbs are often able to move in a sentence with minor changes in meaning.

I don't think there are strong grammatical grounds for preferring the second over the third or vice versa, though I'd probably use 'they would all end up' myself. It could easily be a question of dialect, and a very subtle one at that.

You're correct; I can see no way that putting the 'all' before 'they' could be made to work without more major rephrasing:

... trying to predict where all of them would end up.

share|improve this answer
    
Alright. Thanks for your answer. Let me clarify an issue. I can't use 'where would they all *' because in this particular sentence, we are not asking anything, right?. –  Robert Smith Jun 24 '11 at 1:06
    
@Robert: It would depend on what the omitted part of the sentence contained, but unless it was a question, you would be correct. If the missing part was "Are you trying to predict where would they all end up?", then you might be able to use that, though it feels a bit clumsy (incorrect) compared with "Are you trying to predict where they would all end up?" –  Jonathan Leffler Jun 24 '11 at 1:56
    
Right. Thanks a lot. –  Robert Smith Jun 24 '11 at 2:40
1  
It may not be central to the issue, but you can't say "Are you trying to predict where would they all end up?". It has to be "Were you..." or "...where they will all end up". –  FumbleFingers Jun 24 '11 at 3:31
    
What Fumble says. In indirect questions, there is no subject–verb inversion. –  Cerberus Jun 24 '11 at 4:18
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.