This tag is for questions about the correct order of words in a phrase, or a sentence.

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7
votes
6answers
7k views

Why put the verb before the subject?

The opening sentence to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien reads, In a hole in the ground there lived [verb] a hobbit [subject]. I wonder if there are accepted stylistic purposes for such a structure. ...
7
votes
1answer
301 views

“You're too clever a man”

You're too clever a man to imagine this. The above sentence was said by George Galloway, a man of excellent rhetorical skills. Since he said it, I doubt it's wrong, grammatically. But, I wonder ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

When to put “River” before or after its name and why?

Unlike mountain names, where "Mount" always precedes its name, e.g. Mount Everest, I've noticed that some rivers have "River" before its name, e.g. the River Nile but others have it after, e.g. the ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

About using “only” with present perfect

I have seen this sentence in a status from one of my facebook friends. It doesn't sound right to me. We have only left the city for the day. I think that it should be something like: We have ...
3
votes
1answer
713 views

Adverb placement in “Let's simply share”

To me the expression Let's simply share seems wrong. I've always thought the adverb should come after the verb. Is that correct?
2
votes
3answers
129 views

Placing the object of an infinitive before it instead of after it

At the beginning of 1807, based on information gathered from Burr’s correspondence allegedly showing that he had begun preparations for a large-scale military expedition, the former vice ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Usage of “just”, “only” and word-order [intended meaning]

I've got these sentences, which meanings are correct (my interpretations are in brackets): Use of only: (1) Only in 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Use of “only” and word-order

I'm writing an automobile website and some of my paragraphs contain the word "only". I understand the following. As far as I'm aware, this is right: Only the Volkswagen Polo, Golf, Passat, Passat ...
1
vote
2answers
9k views

“Where am I?” vs. “Where I am?” [closed]

Which is more correct to say in a question? (For example a guy that wakes up in a train) "Where am I?" or "Where I am?"
25
votes
7answers
6k views

Is it possible to start a grammatically-correct English sentence with the word “Than”?

Question: Is it possible to start a grammatically-correct English sentence with the word "Than"? If no, what other English words share this property? Background: Trevor claimed that it is ...
13
votes
9answers
11k views

“All is not lost” vs “Not all is lost”

I guess I've been in mathematics for far too long, and I tend to use the phrase "Not all is lost" as the negative of "All is lost". To me the phrase "All is not lost" suggests that nothing is lost. ...
20
votes
6answers
40k views

Why do you say “so do I”?

Why is the order of the words in "so do I" or "nor do I" different from the normal order?
19
votes
6answers
5k views

When can the -ing form of a verb be placed before a noun?

My native-speaker's grammatical intuition tells me that: There is a sleeping man under the tree. is fine but There is a fishing man by the river bank. is wrong. Why? I've thought about ...
39
votes
7answers
11k views

Why use “of” in the phrase “delivered of a baby”?

With all the "Royal baby" craze comes something that really confuses me. All the news media used pretty much the same sentence to make the announcement: The Duchess of Cambridge has been ...
15
votes
3answers
24k views

“Can easily be” vs. “can be easily” — what's the difference?

I'm wondering what the difference is between: It can easily be obtained. It can be easily obtained. Also, what's the preferred way to write it? If there is any... I googled for both ...
8
votes
1answer
224 views

“I do not know where … is” vs. “I do not know where is …”

Which of the following sentences is correct in the formal context? Both? If possible, please also explain why each of these sentences is correct/incorrect. I do not know where the best place to ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

When should I repeat the definite article?

I am a bit confused about the rule of setting the definite article in a sentence when it is associated to two nouns. The beginning and end of the channel. The beginning and the end of the ...
33
votes
9answers
7k views

“A cup of hot coffee” or “A hot cup of coffee”

I once had an argument with someone about this. Is the meaning of "A cup of hot coffee" the same as "A hot cup of coffee"? Surprisingly I've often heard people utter either of the two, but not ...
7
votes
3answers
498 views

Word order, e.g. in “Hotel California”, “Brothers Quay”

This is a question about the order of words when a common name is associated to a proper name. Does it matter to say "California Hotel" rather than "Hotel California"? Similarly, there are two ...
6
votes
1answer
11k views

Is there a difference in meaning between “does not seem to” and “seems not to”?

Consider the following sentences: Try not to be alarmed if a rule doesn’t seem to work for a specific sentence. Try not to be alarmed if a rule seems not to work for a specific sentence. ...
1
vote
2answers
6k views

Position of prepositions in questions and clauses

I would like to know if there is any rule to know where prepositions should be placed in questions or clauses. For example, I have heard many sentences and some of them put the preposition in the ...
11
votes
3answers
10k views

Prepositions at the end of sentence and whom

I believe it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition. That seems to be the consensus here as well. Now I think that when who is the object of a preposition, it should technically be whom, e.g. ...
5
votes
2answers
355 views

In which case are items written in a different order than they are read aloud?

When talking about money, people often write "$1", but read this as "one dollar", rather than "dollar one". (Same with "£1" and "one pound"). Are there any other situations, besides currency, in which ...
5
votes
3answers
12k views

Place of “often” in the sentence

My question is simple. Is the following sentence correct? They don't watch TV often. My English teacher has told me that the only correct option is: They don't often watch TV. Is she ...
5
votes
2answers
7k views

“Subject, verb, direct object, object complement” versus “subject, verb, indirect object, direct object”

Reading English Grammar (HarperCollins College Outline, published by HarperResource, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) I found a chapter (Sentence Basics) that explains that in English there are ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Semantics and frequency of use of different adverb orderings

Is there any semantic difference between these two sentences? Also, is any of them more "correct" or frequently used than the other? This problem has been recently addressed by several authors ...
2
votes
3answers
419 views

Adjective + “of them”

My wife and I were discussing whether it is allowable to put an adjective in front of "of them". For instance, I could say "I want 5 cats" and "I want 5 of them". However, while it sounds perfectly ...
1
vote
1answer
112 views

Can a present participle follow a subject?

Which is correct, and why? some days we went on adventures — him maneuvering our scooter, me resting my chin … or some days we went on adventures — he maneuvering our scooter, I resting my ...
1
vote
1answer
7k views

“You should have also named” vs. “you should also have named”

Out of the two sentences, which one is correct? You should have also named it the Daily prophet. You should also have named it the Daily prophet. My guess is it's the first one.
16
votes
3answers
6k views

How does one correctly punctuate a sentence that declares that one has a question? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Punctuation with “The question is…” '.', '?' or ' “… ?” ' Position of question mark when sentence doesn't end ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

“You just can't” vs. “you can't just ”

I'm a bit confused about this. Which expression is correct? You can't just do that. or You just can't do that. I'm trying to say: You can't just bash an ideology because of what ...
5
votes
3answers
6k views

How to properly write sentence with double words

I commonly come across sentences where I have to write the same word twice such as, This is what I've been looking for for a long time. and in these cases I just try to rewrite the sentence to ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Auxiliary verb and adverb ordering

(I'm not really sure if the title is a correct definition of my problem at all) I'm not a native English speaker, and I'm used to say: Spaghetti suddenly can talk But I've seen a phrase from a ...
4
votes
4answers
936 views

Adjective order: Why is “big” before “beautiful”?

I was reading an English children story to my niece the other day when I came across these phrases said by three different characters: I want a big, beautiful hat! I want a big, ...
4
votes
3answers
367 views

Which is correct: “first ever loss” or “first loss ever”

Consider the following two phrases Microsoft reports first quarterly loss ever Microsoft reports first ever quarterly loss Which of the them is correct?
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Long subjects in indirect questions

I know that to indirectly ask: What is your name? I should say something like: I don't know what your name is. But what if the subject of question is longer than "your name"? Something ...
4
votes
1answer
5k views

“I finally was able” or “I was finally able”?

Is one form wrong or more correct than the other? Or do they have different meanings? I'm a non-native speaker trying to figure it out.
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Inversion with “many times” at the beginning of a sentence

I am having a discussion with my friend. I said, "Many times I have seen him washing his car." He says it should be, "Many times have I seen him washing his car. Much like "Often do I see him", and ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Position of “now”

What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences? This feature is now disabled. This feature is disabled now.
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Proper usage/origin of the generic phrase “[action phrase] does not a [noun] make” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is “xxxx doth not a yyyy make” considered valid English? I occasionally come across a sentence formulated in a manner similar to the following: ...
3
votes
5answers
2k views

“Please explain” or “explain please”

Which one is correct in this context? Person A: I think Apple will displace Google. Person B: Please explain. Should he say/write "Explain please"?
2
votes
3answers
649 views

Noun-adjective reversal - was it ever in use in plain speech?

In some more or less archaic texts I found the order of noun and its adjective reversed at times, like: I traveled through nights starless, and roads unmapped. I wonder, is it a stylistic tool ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

“I never was” vs. “I was never”

What is the difference between "I never was" and "I was never"? It seems that there is a subtle difference, but I can't quite grasp it. Is one of them informal? For example: I never was a good ...
1
vote
1answer
536 views

Unusual word order in “Fear not this night”?

Yesterday, I've listened to a song called "Fear not this night". I find the syntax unusual (as a foreigner, I have never encountered it). Is it the same meaning as "Don't fear this night" ? What's the ...
1
vote
1answer
4k views

My and Linda's or Mine and Linda's? [duplicate]

How do you use possessive pronouns in cases where there are multiple "owners" and "objects" in question? For example would it be: "I've included my and Linda's suggestions in the file" or "I've ...
1
vote
2answers
4k views

Noun order: “He and we…” or “We and he…”? Similarly, “…him and us” or “…us and him”?

It's convention and polite to always list yourself last in a list. I say "John and I went to the store" and not "I and John went to the store." So does that mean that I should always list myself ...
1
vote
1answer
5k views

Position of “of which” in the sentence [closed]

In a post here I found that both following sentences are correct..is that true? Is the first one really grammatically correct? A camera of which the wires go through the wall. A camera, the ...
1
vote
3answers
14k views

Put your shoes on and Take your coat off [closed]

I have often heard the following statements when someone talks about shoes, cloths, etc. I don't know which one is more appropriate or grammatically correct. Hey, put your shoes on. Hey, put ...
0
votes
4answers
2k views

Position of “yet” in a causative sentence

If I have to write a causative sentence in Present Perfect, where should I put yet, at the end of the question or right after the negation? She hasn't had her doors mended by the carpenter yet. ...
0
votes
2answers
544 views

What are the differences between “go to school happily”, “go happily to school” and “happily go to school”?

There are three similar phrases which I would like to know the differences between: go to school happily go happily to school happily go to school I have long been confused by the ...