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


This problem has recently been addressed by several authors

1 Answer 1


The second is more naturally English. The first feels like an attempt to wrestle the order into grammatical correctness, although it fails. The blackboard grammar version would have been:

This problem has been addressed recently by several authors

Note that the entire verb construct has been neatly drawn together, as if it were a single word in a complex conjugation. Note, too, that it is something you would never hear in spontaneous speech from anyone but a schoolteacher or that curmudgeonly pedant who, quite understandably, has little in the way of company.

  • In what sense are the other versions not "blackboard grammar"? I’ve not seen any serious descriptions of English grammar, nor met any curmudgeonly pedants, who would label any of these incorrect! (And I’ve met some pretty curmudgeonly prescriptivist pedants over the years.)
    – PLL
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 21:19
  • In the spirit of never splitting infinitives (which English doesn't actually have), there are people who believe that a verb is a verb, no matter how many words it takes to express it. And apparently you've never met my fifth grade English teacher.
    – bye
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 21:27
  • Ah, fair enough — sorry, I misunderstood your use of "blackboard grammar", and thought you were endorsing it as a legitimate idea of grammar. In that case, agreed with what you say :-)
    – PLL
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 21:40
  • @PLL: Agreed; perhaps "blackboard grammar" could be clarified in the answer. Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 22:42
  • 1
    Hmm... I thought it was a common-enough phrase. It's certainly clear enough in the circles I move in (and there is not one of us who would say "the circles in which I move" without irony).
    – bye
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 22:54

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