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In English there is some flexibility in the placement of adverbs:

A: Also I ate the lasagna.
B: I also ate the lasagna.
C: I ate also the lasagna.
D: I ate the lasagna also.

There is a difference in nuance between these sentences, but I am not concerned with that here. My interest is in simple technical writing where it is most important that the reader be able to parse the sentence grammatically. That is, it should be clear that "also" is an adverb, and that "ate" is the verb being modified.

This is trickier for sentences containing long phrases:

Add numerically greater items to the list first.

Presumably the answer will depend on the native language of the reader. But I'd appreciate any specific or general advice, as I communicate daily with people who speak many different languages.

Edit: As many people pointed out, my examples are not good. Here are some examples from real life, edited to respect confidentiality:

While the attenuator is running, occasionally the bias will saturate and the output will sit at -4 V.

vs

While the attenuator is running, the bias will occasionally saturate and the output will sit at -4 V.

The reader's native language is Spanish.

In the past couple weeks we experimented with applying this segmentation to some of your images and found it made an accuracy improvement of 0.5-1.5%.

vs

We experimented in the past couple weeks with applying this segmentation to some of your images and found it made an accuracy improvement of 0.5-1.5%.

The reader's native language is Japanese.

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    I don't understand how you want the reader to be able to parse the sentence grammatically, yet are unconcerned with the difference in meaning. – J.R. Feb 15 '14 at 11:35
  • Adverb placement in English is fairly complicated for non-native speakers, and adverb type (e.g. connecting adverbs, adverbs of manner, etc.) determines it's placement to a significant degree. It's not easy to give a neat summary. This is a good starting point. – anongoodnurse Feb 15 '14 at 11:41
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    Which non-native speaker? The difficulties peculiar to non-native speakers often relate to the differences between English and their native language. That will be different for one non-native speaker, than for another. – Jon Hanna Feb 15 '14 at 12:10
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    This is what comes of calling something an "adverb". Also is not an adverb, though it does shift to many adverb niches. Also is an Operator, with a focus, like only and even. There is a standard rule, which should be the first thing anyone would reach for: Operators like also, only, even may appear immediately before their focus, or immediately before any constituent containing their focus. In the case of also and only, they may also appear immediately after the focus (even is dialectal in this position). Examples in next comment. – John Lawler Feb 15 '14 at 13:57
  • Lasagna is the focus word, so the noun phrase the lasagna and the verb phrase ate the lasagna are constituents that contain the focus, so also can appear before them. These are very short constituents, so it becomes clearer with longer ones. You can't just jam it in after every word; only at constituent boundaries. I also told him that you had said that we'd need *umbrellas* cannot move also to positions before him, you, or we'd, because they don't start constituents, for example. – John Lawler Feb 15 '14 at 14:06
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Each if these sentences can have significantly different meanings, and the placement of also is critical to those meanings.

A: I went to the store. Also I ate the lasagna.

B: John ate the lasagna. I also ate the lasagna.

C: I ate also the lasagna. [Not a sequence I think most US users would choose.]

D: I ate the hamburger. I ate the lasagna also.

Which you choose depends on what you are trying to convey. Since also indicates a conjunctiveness, and sometimes a form of contrast, placement may convey what is being conjoined or contrasted.

The second example is rife with possible interpretations depending on where you put the adverbs (which also may serve as adjectives). As just one example, consider

Add numerically greater items to the list first. The $100 bill precedes the $50 bill.

Add numerically greater items to the first list. The $100 bill goes on list A, not B.

First add numerically greater items to the list. Then look up each item on the chart.

Numerically add greater items to the list first. The whale is number 1, the dolphin number 2, ... [perhaps a bit of a reach]

There really can't be a universal rule about placement. You need consider exactly what you are trying to modify and what you are trying to emphasize. Several comments have offered some very general guidelines or links that may be of some help.

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