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For example:

The word rarely turns up outside of those contexts.

The word turns up rarely outside of those contexts.

Which one is correct and why?

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Rarely, the word turns up outside of those contexts. The word turns up outside of those contexts rarely. –  GEdgar Mar 7 '13 at 20:40

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Both correct, I don't think it's supposed to be limited here. Maybe the creative usage "turns rarely up" would also be used in some cases.

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Positioning adverbs is a complex affair. There are some rules of thumb, but for many adverbs, it is quite acceptable to place it before or after the verb. In this case, I think either way is acceptable, though I would probably find the former more natural, i.e.

The word rarely turns up outside of those contexts.

but the following is also acceptable, if a bit less natural:

The word turns up rarely outside of those contexts.

Two side notes: a) you want those (the plural of that), since contexts is plural, b) of is required in both cases here, as it belongs with the word outside.

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Or, of course, just change "contexts" to "context". –  Mark Hurd Jan 24 '11 at 3:53
    
@Mark Hurd: Yes, though I think it's much more likely he made the mistake with the adjective rather than the noun. :) –  Noldorin Jan 24 '11 at 14:43

In the first version, the word "rarely" seems to be the subject, rather than "The word," so the meaning is ambiguous.

As in:

The word "rarely" turns up outside of those contexts.

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Frequency adverbs such as rarely go before the verb or divide the verb phrase, as in "I have seldom seen such outrageous behavior." Other examples of frequency adverbs are seldom, occasionally, often, sometimes.

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"Turns up rarely" appears to describe the way it turns up rather than how often. "Rarely turns up" shows how often.

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They both describe the way it turns up — being adverbs attached to the verb phrase "shows up" — and in both cases that relates to how often. –  Jon Hanna Jan 18 '13 at 18:12

protected by tchrist Aug 13 at 19:49

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