Look at this sentence:

There was also found a significant interaction effect between gender and age groups

The part "There was also found" gives about 50 million records when you google it with quotations, but the editor of the journal I submitted my manuscript in, wrote in the review that this sentence "is awkwardly phrased". I have two questions:

1) Is this sentence really awkwardly phrased?

2) What would be a good paraphrasing for the sentence

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    You think you can't get 50 million hits on awkwardly phrased English? Dream on. In any case, you've left out the subject of the sentence, but let's suppose it is "a box of rocks." You would be better off saying "A box of rocks was also found" than "There was also found a box of rocks."
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 11:13
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    Can we have the whole sentence please? It's difficult to make a sensible judgement otherwise Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 13:22
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    "There was also found, in the suburbs, a man who could speak Greek" is no less grammatical than "There was also found to be a serious shortage of antivenin", but the advantage of the second example is that people actually talk that way. Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 13:41
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    OK so I'm going to write you a proper answer tomorrow. Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 2:43
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    @Araucaria My comment was made before he edited his question. Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 11:10

1 Answer 1


It is most certainly awkward, at the very least. What you're looking for is We also found X or X was also found but not there. . .

Unfortunately, Google is not the right tool for deciding whether something is correct English or not. Google NGrams, which query a corpus of published works as opposed to random internet musings, while far from perfect, are a much better choice:

enter image description here

As you can see in the image above there are relatively few occurrences of there was also found and essentially none in the latter part of the century. Looking at specific examples from the 1880s, it does indeed seem as though the form was used at the time. However, today it is virtually non-existent.

So, yes, your journal's editor is quite right, that is an awkward phrase and you should change it to X was also found or simply, there was also X dropping the found altogether,

  • 1
    Unfortunately, your Ngram is not as pertinent as it might seem. "There was also found" is going to be much less frequent than "We also found" because the former is derived from a very specific passive construction obtained by passivising the subject of an infinitive clause to the subject position of the matrix clause verb phrase, whereas the latter can occur in any type of finite clause, whether in a matrix clause or a subordinate clause, and which is also going to be more prevalent because it is not passive voice. Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 2:27
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    Are you related to Sir Humphrey Appleby?
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 2:52
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    Fair point. Ok, We also found is part of a very common construction. There was also found is part of a much rarer, but still perfectly normal construction. We found can occur in many positions in the sentence. There was found is restricted to a very few. The relative frequency of the two doesn't therefore imply that one is more grammatical than the other - any more than we should infer that that because the word I is more frequent, it is therefore superior to the word pterodactyl. Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 13:05
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    @Araucaria thanks for the translation :). You're quite right, of course. What I would like to show is that there was also found _NOUN_ is very uncommon. The NGram I show is very far from conclusive, more useful are the individual results for there was also found which are all archaic usages.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 19:34

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