I am searching two short (4-5 word) grammatical sentences that have two adverbials adv1 and adv2 inside, and in sentence A, adv1 is applied to VP and than adv2, but in sentence B the order is reversed.

Are any combination of below sentences the example I am searching? I am not sure about grammaticality of sentences in B.

Sentence A candidates (first, fast is applied to ran and then yesterday):

1a. yesterday John ran fast
1b. John ran fast yesterday
1c. John yesterday ran fast

2a. John slept in Paris yesterday
2b. yesterday John slept in Paris 
2c. John yesterday slept in Paris 

Sentence B candidates (first, yesterday is applied to ran and then fast):

1d. John ran yesterday fast

2d. John slept yesterday in Paris
  • Why do you call the first two "sentence A", and the second two "sentence B"? Your third version isn't at all acceptable to me, btw, but in some contexts the fourth would be. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 1:55
  • I edited the question to make it more clear Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 2:10
  • 1
    More clear vs clearer. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 7:09

2 Answers 2


Examples 1c, 2c, and 1d are non-idiomatic (not used).

Examples 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b and 2d are properly formed.

"yesterday" acts as a sentence adverb in 1a and 2b. These sentences could use a comma after "yesterday", but it's not mandatory in such short sentences.

  • IN GENERAL, English puts time-words after other elements OR before the verb. So "John slept in Paris yesterday" sounds fine, and so does "Yesterday, John slept in Paris". But "John slept yesterday in Paris" sounds like a foreigner speaking English, and "John yesterday slept in Paris" even more so. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 10:08
  • @David: Other factors are in play besides "time-words after other elements". We can add another "adverb" to 1a, for example: "Yesterday John ran home fast" - which I could live with, though personally I'd much prefer quickly over fast. But whereas I'd have no problem relocating quickly to before the verb, I could never accept "Yesterday John ran fast home". Then there's the possibility of using quick rather than quickly, which introduces another set of "acceptable/unacceptable" differences. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 13:12
  • FumbleFingers, you're right. I was focused on the time-element. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 14:47
  • Changed my answer. 2d is OK , 1d is not. I had that backwards. Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 0:24

Firstly, I have poor comprehension skills for your style of English. Therefore, I might have misunderstood what you are asking.

Have you studied Greek?

Greek is categorised as being a synthetic language.

English is called an analytic language. However, English does retain a small residual of synthetic linguistic characteristics.

In synthetic languages, words in a phrase can be rearranged where the meaning would remain the same, but either altering the emphasis or mood.

A sentence or phrase may be grammatically acceptable, but may be unusual.

I have not been trained to use the term "grammatical" in a way such that I don't understand what people mean when they say, "this sentence is grammatical". Because, even pidgin English is "grammatical", if it has its own grammatical conventions. The proper term to use is "grammatically acceptable" or otherwise "grammatically unusual".

First, you have to aim for "grammatically acceptable" structure, so that people around you would understand you easily and conveniently. If that is your motivation, you would probably already know the answer yourself.

However, there should be no stopping you from using grammatically unusual structures, if your motivation is to confound, confuse or mystify your speech. You could be writing poetry, in which you might compel the reader to spend a little more time to ponder what you have to say. Perhaps, a particular grammatical style is used to remind or hint about a particularly interesting region of the country.

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