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I sent an email to confirm my meeting with a person which specified time, date, place, and building on the email like below:

I would like to meet you at 5pm this Sunday in KFC on the first floor in USA Shopping center.

There are two things about this sentence.

  1. It's overly complicated for me.
  2. The order of time, date, place, etc doesn't look right.

I wonder if there is a rule of order when writing about time, date, place, etc.

  • 1
    Related: What is the rule for adjective order? – Kit Z. Fox Jun 18 '14 at 16:45
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    If you want to decomplicate the sentence, break it up into several simpler ones. – Oldcat Jun 19 '14 at 0:49
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    As Oldcat says, To make things less complicated, just break them up. How about:<br> Let's meet! When: Sunday 5pm Where: KFC, first floor of USA Shopping center. – pfox Jul 16 '14 at 14:53
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No, I don't think so. There are multiple ways to get across those time & space coordinates.

(And of course there are clear and obscure ways to describe a time or place. If in KFC on the first floor of the USA mall is clear to your reader/listener, then no problem.

  • 1
    I think there is an implied ordering for spatial coordinates, if not for time coordinates. It would be odd to hear in KFC at the USA mall on the first floor or in the USA mall on the first floor in KFC without those things being parenthetical or added as after-the-fact clarifications. At least, I think so. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 18 '14 at 16:49
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    @KitFox: There are multiple possibilities, for both time & space. And yes, some possibilities are not so clear. And some can be made clear by changing word order or explicitly grouping words. And some are clear only or mainly within a given context (e.g. MM/DD/YYYY in the US). You might just as well say that there is an implied order for date-time: larger-to-smaller or smaller-to-larger unit, but MM/DD/YYYY certainly does not respect that. – Drew Jun 18 '14 at 17:22
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I don't think there's an official requirement on the ordering in which coordinates like these need to be presented. As a general rule for myself though, I like to list them in progressively increasing magnitudes of specificity. For example, the following list should be ordered like so:

On Earth, in North America, in the United States, in Pennsylvania, in (my town), on (my street), in my house, in my room

Granted, no list should ever need to be that drawn out (save for this one), but it demonstrates the concept sufficiently. To apply it to your example, it'd look as such:

On the first floor in USA Shopping center in KFC

"In KFC" is more specific than "On the first floor in USA Shopping center."

As for the time, think the same way. Refine the specificity as the sentence goes on:

This Sunday at 5pm

"At 5pm" describes an hour, which is more specific than a day (i.e. "this Sunday").

And when combining place and time coordinates, it's really arbitrary whether the location or time coordinate should come first. Depends on context and personal preference.

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    On the first floor is more specific than in USA shopping center, innit? Personally I'd say in the KFC on the first floor of USA shopping center, going in the specific to general direction rather than the reverse. – verbose Feb 17 '17 at 23:00
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It seems to me that people will ask, Am I free on that day? Am I free at that time? Can I get to that place? So it should be date, time, place: "I would like to meet you on Sunday, at 5 p.m., in the KFC on the first floor of the USA Shopping Center."

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There are a few things that seem off with your original sentence:

I would like to meet you at 5pm this Sunday in KFC on the first floor in USA Shopping center.

First, the order of adverbials is off. As the Cambridge dictionary says, adverbials of time should follow adverbials of place.

When there is more than one of the three types of adverb together, they usually go in the order: manner, place, time.

An example from there is:

James played brilliantly [manner] in the match [place] on Saturday [time]. (preferred to James played brilliantly on Saturday in the match.)

So in your sentence, the order of the adverbs needs to be reversed:

I would like to meet you in KFC on the first floor in USA Shopping center at 5pm this Sunday.

That is immediately much better. The two sets of adverbials are in the right order (place, then time).

Within each set, you have already arranged each of them from most specific to most general: 5pm is more specific than this Sunday, for example. You could choose to arrange from most general to most specific too: this Sunday at 5pm. But in that case you should probably rearrange the place adverbs too, to go from most general (USA Shopping Center) to most specific (KFC). That is a matter of preference and style rather than a rule per se. The way you have them arranged is fine.

The rest of the tweaks don't have to do directly with your question about the arrangement of adverbials, but are needed to make the sentence idiomatic. Consider the following conversation:

"Where did you eat?"
"KFC."
"The one on Foo Road?"
"No, the one in USA Shopping Center."

When you are specifying which KFC, you need the definite article. You can say I'll see you in KFC, but once you're narrowing it down to a specific one, you have to say I'll meet you in the KFC on the first floor.

I would like to meet you in the KFC on the first floor in USA Shopping center at 5pm this Sunday.

Next, idiomatically we say the nth floor of a building rather than in:

I would like to meet you in the KFC on the first floor of USA Shopping center at 5pm this Sunday.

Finally, is the name of the mall USA Shopping Center? If so, capitalize accordingly:

I would like to meet you in the KFC on the first floor of USA Shopping Center at 5pm this Sunday.

If the shopping center is called just USA, and you're adding the shopping center for disambiguation (the first floor of USA seems, um, rather vast) then you need to lose the capital S and add a definite article. It's a bit tricky to explain, but I'll try. Suppose I've been trying to choose between Harmon-Kardon and Bose speakers. Once I am sure, I might say:

I've decided to buy the Bose speakers.

Here, I'm using Bose to specify which speakers among the ones I was considering. Since it's a specification, I need the definite article. It works just like the green bag or some other specification using an adjective.

Similarly, if the mall is just named USA, you are specifying which shopping center, and its name functions adjectivally. So you would need the definite article:

I would like to meet you in the KFC on the first floor of the USA shopping center at 5pm this Sunday.

  • I don't agree that the original sentence sounds off. – sumelic Feb 18 '17 at 1:11
  • @sumelic I guess both the OP and I disagree with you :-) – verbose Feb 18 '17 at 6:07

protected by tchrist Feb 18 '17 at 3:45

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