I'm trying to decide which sentence is correct, or if they both are. which would you recommend as easier to read/understand for the average reader?

  1. Hop the rocks quickly and get the star.
  2. Quickly hop the rocks and get the star.

I'm using this in a promo for a game I made. Assuming both are valid, would it be better to use the first sentence since it begins with a shorter word?

  • 2
    fwiw, imo, hop implies quickly, so you could just say "Hop the rocks and get the star" which is catchier anyway due to its parallel structure and syllabic symmetry. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 10 '14 at 18:19
  • 1
    There's a slight difference between the two versions, which is due to the scope of "quickly". In version #1, the scope is over the first coordinate (the hopping of rocks). In version #2, the scope is somewhat ambiguous: either it scopes over the hopping and getting, or else it scopes just over the hopping. -- (Aside: Why would you prefer to start a sentence with a smaller word? I haven't heard of that one before.) – F.E. Jun 10 '14 at 18:26
  • @KitFox, I completely agree with you but the only reason I had put that in was to emphasize the time aspect since it's a time-based game. – user79823 Jun 10 '14 at 18:30
  • @F.E., interesting point! Completely slipped my mind that it could be interpreted as scoping both parts. I was just thinking from a psychological point of view that starting with a smaller word is more likely to be read. Or I may just be overthinking it :) – user79823 Jun 10 '14 at 18:34
  • @F.E. Neither did I hear of having a smaller word up front is better. Though I can understand starting with the noun could be better to get your directions across. – nl-x Jun 10 '14 at 18:34

Both are grammatical; the ranges of their possible meanings overlap but are not identical. Either could mean that IF you hop the rocks quickly enough, your quickness will earn you a star as a kind of prize. The second could mean that you should hop the rocks and just grab the star (forget about its being awarded to you), and you should do both quickly. In the first, the adverb quickly modifies hop but NOT get; in the second, it modifies hop but may or may not modify get.


Assuming there are 10 rocks to hop.

I could hop the rocks quickly, like 0.5 seconds per rock. Even if I pause 5 seconds after every rock, to balance and breathe, I can still say I hopped the rocks quickly. It would cost me 55 seconds to hop 10 rocks.

If I quickly hop the rocks, I might even hop each rock a bit slower, let's say 1 second. But have a quicker pace through all the rocks by just taking 1 other second to balance and breathe. Quickly hopping the same 10 rocks would cost me just 19 seconds.

And ow yeah. Off course I got the star in both cases :)

  • Hmm, maybe this explains it better: The second one could imply a silent 'all' in it: Quickly hop ALL the rocks and .... While it is less credible that the first one had a silent 'all' in it: Hop ALL the rocks quickly and ... – nl-x Jun 10 '14 at 18:38
  • This is quite the analysis! Didn't expect my question could turn into a math question! :) – user79823 Jun 10 '14 at 19:07

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