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They both have plenty examples available, but which one is preferable?

  • "Can't it also be" — 1,310,000 Google results
  • "Can't it be also" — 1,430,000 Google results
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Google books ngram viewer is probably more authoritative source (if you may call search engine authoritative source at all):

alt text

(See here)

Unfortunately, I did not find how to search for "can't", above link is for "can it also be" version.

"Can it also be" clearly wins.

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Whatever Google may say, the first version — "can't it also be" — sounds more natural to my ear. The fact that the second version has more Google hits may simply mean that other things on the page are what generated the hits. In other words, people link to pages that have information they need, regardless of grammar or writing style.

Moreover, in looking through a few I see the latter construction has been used very often in sentences involving what I would consider substandard writing. Take for example

why does java have an interpreator can't it be also a compiler

That is the complete and uncensored title of a blog post that appears on the first page of the "can't it be also" Google search. No capitalizations, no punctuation, misspellings — certainly these are not the hallmarks of a writing style you wish to emulate, are they?

And, in fact, if you Google the entire sentence you will see that it accounts for about 50 of the total 1.43 million hits. Polling Google for usage tips is not the best way to separate the wheat from the chaff, at least when it comes to grammar or spelling.

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+1 for " certainly these are not the hallmarks of a writing style you wish to emulate" –  Matt Ball Jan 10 '11 at 16:52
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I myself don't quite understand how googling has become accepted as a tool for verifying grammatical or syntactical correctness. –  Jimi Oke Jan 11 '11 at 1:40
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