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

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116
votes
13answers
22k views

When is it appropriate to end a sentence in a preposition?

Like many others, I commonly find myself ending a sentence with a preposition. Yes, it makes me cringe. I usually rewrite the sentence, but sometimes (in emails) I just live with it. To, with... ...
228
votes
5answers
86k views

What is the rule for adjective order?

I remember being taught that the correct order of adjectives in English was something along the lines of "Opinion-Size-Age-Color-Material-Purpose." However, it's been a long time and I'm pretty sure ...
43
votes
5answers
308k views

“My friends and I” vs. “My friends and me” vs. “Me and my friends”

I've always been taught to put myself last when referring to myself in the same sentence as others but the usage of "me and..." seems to be everywhere these days. The misuse of the word "me" instead ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Are there any rules on the positioning adverbs should take in a sentence?

For example: Ever wish you could share information broadly Could it be rewritten to: Ever wish you could broadly share information Are there any rules for the position of the adverbs.
17
votes
3answers
5k views

Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs?

Mark's generosity in this crisis seems to more than make up for his earlier stinginess. Should those sentences always be avoided, or are there cases where they are valid?
16
votes
5answers
109k views

Should an adverb go before or after a verb?

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?
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Changing subject and verb positions in statements and questions

We always change subject and verb positions in whenever we want to ask a question such as "What is your name?". But when it comes to statements like the following, which form is correct? I don'...
12
votes
2answers
734 views

“A place nearby” but not “A place good”

I can ask any of: Do you know a breakfast place nearby? Do you know a nearby breakfast place? Do you know a good breakfast place? but I really can't ask: Do you know a breakfast place ...
7
votes
5answers
7k views

Why do some adjectives follow the nouns they modify?

Right now I can only think of one instance in which this regularly occurs. The adjective proper is sometimes placed after the noun it modifies, e.g: Reptilia: A class of cold-blooded oviparous or ...
6
votes
3answers
7k views

“Above”/“below” before/after a noun

I have seen sentences similar to the following: (1) See the reference above. (2) See the reference below. And, (3) See the above reference. But not, (4) See the below reference. ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Conditional sentences not starting with “if”

Were I rich, I would live on Long Island. If I were rich, I would live on Long Island. Is the first sentence still used, or is used in particular contexts (in example, to give emphasis to the ...
6
votes
4answers
9k views

Why is “xxxx doth not a yyyy make” considered valid English?

Reading doth not a writer make. This sounds all wrong so why it is acceptable to use? The word order looks to be all out sequence (Object-Subject-Verb). It should be "reading does not make you a ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

When can an adjective be postposed?

I read this at the economist, and it's the 2nd sentence in the 2nd paragraph. That is small consolation for an Israeli establishment still hankering after the much easier rapport it had with Egypt'...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a name for inverting word order to accomplish a different meaning?

There are many sayings that invert the word order to convey a different meaning. e.g. "Do you live to work or do you work to live?" "He who fails to plan, plans to fail" Is there a name for this ...
7
votes
2answers
562 views

“put X down to” vs. “put down X to”: subjects of verbs with two particles

I expect I would have to put down many coats to do the job. (SOURCE) One factor to distinguish phrasal verbs from prepositional verbs is particle movement. Phrasal verbs can place the particle ...
6
votes
3answers
717 views

Which comes first: cat or dog?

Which comes first in a sentence? I know some word pairs such as bacon and eggs, where bacon always comes first. E.g: Make me bacon and eggs for dinner, honey. Cats and dogs are the two most ...
9
votes
4answers
6k views

“Mom and Dad” vs “Dad and Mom” [duplicate]

I'm curious if the order implies anything here. I'm pretty sure "Mom and Dad" is standard in English. The issue was hard for me to google, so I'm asking it here: Is using "Dad" before "Mom" incorrect,...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

“Even were he not to…”

I am currently reading "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" by P.K. Dick and I have come across a grammatical structure I don't quite understand. The excerpt is the following (no spoilers, don't ...
20
votes
6answers
2k views

19th century English texts occasionally use Germanic-style number words, such as “four-and-twenty”. When did this fall out of use?

19th century English texts occasionally use Germanic-style number words, such as "four-and-twenty", but the same text would also have the modern "twenty-four" in places (see e.g. Conan-Doyle for ...
12
votes
5answers
10k views

Can “already” be used after a simple past verb in American English?

A British colleague asked if these two sentences are grammatically acceptable in American English: They found already high recognition in Europe and we wish to carry that further. ...
13
votes
5answers
3k views

Is “The City Beautiful” (Orlando's motto) grammatically correct?

I have always wondered why the motto of the City of Orlando, FL (USA) is worded as The City Beautiful instead of The Beautiful City: Is The City Beautiful grammatically correct? If so, do you have ...
3
votes
2answers
481 views

Which are the word orders that can be found in English?

Besides SVO, which are the word orders that can be found in English? Are there any that are peculiar to dialects such as Singlish or Indian English? Please provide an example sentence for each order ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

position of “only”

Which sentence is correct? (A) Mosquito larvae can only be seen through a microscope. (B) Mosquito larvae can be only seen through a microscope. (C) Mosquito larvae can be seen only through ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Does it matter where you put “only”? [duplicate]

Could you please tell me which one of these sentences is correct, or are they both grammatically correct? This will only happen if you go with me. This will happen only if you go with me.
19
votes
6answers
81k views

Which is correct: “the below information” or “the information below”?

I frequently see statements that refer to something later in the text that use a phrase such as "the below information". Is it more correct instead to say "the information below" (or "the following ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Position of the adverb “of course”

...which is of course zero. ...which of course is zero. Which one is preferred?
6
votes
1answer
37k views

What is the correct word order between “have/had”, “been”, and “already” in statements?

What is the correct word order between have/had, been, and already in statements like the following: By the time the product was officially announced, I had already been using it. Or: By the ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Tag Questions “is he not”

"He is happy, isn't he?" If you did not use the contraction isn't he, in the question above, would the correct sentence be: "He is happy, is he not?" "He is happy, is not he?" Sentence #1 seems ...
5
votes
1answer
469 views

Where does the verb go on this question? Is it even a reported question?

I understand that when I report a question, I put the subject back in front of the verb, as in: "He asked if she was going to be late." But I always get puzzled when it comes to reporting a question ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do some questions not start with an auxiliary verb?

When I learned English, my teachers told me that all questions must have an auxiliary verb at the beginning, just like Are you mad? or Is she playing? do. But when watching some movies or talking ...
1
vote
2answers
722 views

Using 'for' as a coordinating conjunction at sentence beginning

As I understand it, 'for' is a coordinating conjunction. Learning German as a second language has taught me specifics about reforming sentences, but it is an awful lot less common in English. If I ...
1
vote
4answers
10k views

Is “forth and back” more proper than “back and forth”?

I think the term "back and forth" gets thrown around a lot without much thought. From Dictionary.com: forth    [fawrth, fohrth] adverb 1. onward or outward in place or space; forward: to ...
10
votes
3answers
7k views

The Royal Order of Adverbs

I know that the pattern manner-place-time shouldn't be taken too seriously if one wants to speak natural English. In real life, people rarely use a string of adverbs. Speakers will easily break the ...
6
votes
2answers
387 views

Is this correct: “Aloof the hallow things shall always be”?

I'm writing a poem, and I wondered if, to a native speaker, this would sound awkward (or grammatically incorrect): Aloof the hallow things shall always be. As a variant of The hallow things ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

The use of "were- should- had” at the beginning of sentences instead of “if”

Conditionals in English are usually formed by using if with normal word order; but for the three past (subjunctive) forms were, should, and had, it is also possible to express the conditional through ...
3
votes
1answer
9k views

Not only… but also

Consider the following: Not only you should be able to speak but also able to write. You should be able to not only speak but also write. You should not only be able to speak but also be ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“Does not make changes” or “makes no changes”

I was thinking of using this sentence on my computer program: This action does not make changes on user's machine. Just to be sure, I checked Google Translate which suggested: This action ...
2
votes
4answers
858 views

Does adverb placement affect meaning?

He swam slowly to the island. He slowly swam to the island. Some experts say that there is a “slight difference” in meaning. Would you please tell me that difference?
18
votes
3answers
1k views

You don't want to answer this word-placement question, now do you?

Prompted by this question I got to thinking about the placement of the word now. If it's placed before the comma, it refers to an immediate condition: You don't want to answer this word-placement ...
6
votes
4answers
10k views

Why does “Why doesn't it work?” become “Why does it not work?”

When you uncontract doesn't in "Why doesn't it work?" the not moves to "Why does it not work?" This confuses me even more when I use a longer phrase instead of the pronoun it like below: Why ...
15
votes
3answers
25k 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
10k views

Is it incorrect to say, 'Give me it'?

Is it incorrect to say, 'Give me it' ? I am told that it is and one should always say, 'Give it me'?
4
votes
1answer
8k views

Position of 'also'

What is the correct position of the word 'also'? I would like to also talk about ... I would also like to talk about ...
3
votes
2answers
754 views

“Julio and I” vs “I and Julio” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “My friends and I” vs. “My friends and me” vs. “Me and my friends” Is naming the first person last proper grammar or just proper manners? "Julio and I went to the ...
2
votes
2answers
936 views

Position of verb for object clause

Is the general word order of this sentence correct? We investigate how strong the effect of X on Y is. Or, as an alternative, We investigate how strong the effect of X is on Y. In a ...
2
votes
2answers
679 views

Order of participial adjective

I'm proof-reading a thesis by one of my friends and there's some recurring construct which I always mark as false but I'd like to check with you. In the comments I was told that the example I ...
8
votes
4answers
791 views

“Back up data” or “back data up”?

Which is correct? To back up data. To back data up. The context is the following: He was careful enough to perform tests and [back up data | back data up] to avoid any problems.
8
votes
8answers
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
315 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 if ...
3
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...