In a sentence like "At the party, I ate and drank" where the actions are done concurrently, does the order of the verbs show anything about chronological order? For example, in "At the party, I ate and drank" does the fact that "drank" is second mean that you only started drinking after eating something and then only after that did you do the actions together concurrently, or is possible that you did drink before eating and the whole sequence of events is ambiguous?

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    No. In other examples, it may do (*I caught him and raced after him), but here, 'We drank and ate' would sound unnatural, eating being the 'senior partner'. Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


The sequence is ambiguous, and occurs during a time period specified by at the party ("while I was...").

Some sequences sound better because of learned repetition, e.g. eat, drink and be merry (Eccl. 8:15). So "ate and drank" sounds slightly better than "drank and ate". Also one usually doesn't proceed from only one activity to another - we often eat and drink at the same meal.

Given three activities that might happen at a (wild) party, "laughed", "sang" and "danced on a table", does it really matter which order they occurred? In that situation, the order might matter, but generally, the shorter words might go first.

And finally, some sequences are logical during a time frame. "I drank too much and got sick" are logically sequential.


It’s the verbs themselves, not the “verb and verb” structure, that imply whether there's concurrency or sequence here. “Ate and drank” implies concurrency, while “drank and drove” would have implied sequence.

The author could have unambiguously imposed sequence upon the actions by using the word then, as in, “At the party, I ate and then drank.” ...Or, even more specifically, “At the party, I ate, and then I drank.”

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