4

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

vs

This problem has recently been addressed by several authors

5

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.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 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 Feb 19 '11 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 Feb 19 '11 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 Feb 19 '11 at 21:40
  • @PLL: Agreed; perhaps "blackboard grammar" could be clarified in the answer. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Feb 19 '11 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 Feb 19 '11 at 22:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.