3

I was discussing the question of correct word placement in english with a coworker but since we both aren't native speakers we did not come to a conclusion.

Here is an example: Given the sentence

We have no open positions available.

which of the following placements of the word currently are valid?

Is there a simple rule which explains this?

  1. Currently we have no open positions available.
  2. We currently have no open positions available.
  3. We have currently no open positions available.
  4. We have no open positions currently available.
  5. We have no open positions available, currently.
5

They are all correct, though I'd add a few commas here and there. The rule that dictates where adverbs should go is subtle. Adverbs go just before the word or phrase that the adverb is modifying. Essentially 1 - 3 and 5 mean the same thing. Number 5 is least natural because the modifier is at the end, but you've made it into an adverbial phrase.

At this time, we have no open positions available.

Really, there are no job openings. End of story.

Number 4 is a little different. 'Currently' is specifically modifying 'available'.

We have no open positions, that are at this time, available.

There might be job openings, but for whatever reason, they aren't being filled right now.

4

No, there is no simple rule. McCawley discusses the facts and some theories about adverb placement in The Syntactic Phenomena of English. "Currently" is a sentence-modifier, like "probably", and your examples 1, 2, 5 are common to other sentence adverbs. Perhaps the "no open positions (are) available" in your examples is a concealed sentence, then your 3 has the adverb at the beginning of this concealed sentence (so it's like your example 1) and your 4 has the adverb after the subject of this concealed sentence (so it's like your example 2).

  • 1
    I love June CasaGrande's coverage of this in Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies. She's hysterical. – Val Mar 27 '15 at 14:32
  • 1
    @Val: Great link, thanks! I didn't know that one, but it looks really neat (well-expressed and knowledgeable). I've just glanced at Chapter 3: Passing the Simpsons test, which confirms my long-held opinion that you can learn an awful lot about the finer points of usage by studying the output of Messrs Groening and MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad). And the lessons are fun, which looks likely with CasaGrande too! :) – FumbleFingers Mar 27 '15 at 15:59
  • Seems simpler to allow currently to modify the verb have? – Morgan Horse Mar 28 '15 at 13:19
  • @MorganHorse, "simpler" how? What answer could you give to the question by supposing that currently modifies have? If you know, please just give that as another answer to the question. – Greg Lee Mar 28 '15 at 15:48
3

Only number 3 reads oddly to me: we wouldn't put an adverb between the verb and the object [e.g. I wouldn't say "I threw quickly the ball"]. The others are all fine.

2

Do you have Swan, Practical English Usage? Highly recommended, including recommendations on this very issue.

If not, peruse for now this reference at this page:

English Grammar: "(Simple, Practical yet Comprehensive) with Multiple ... By V P KANNAN

  • Based on your sources, which usage among those listed in the question would you recommend? – Sergii Volchkov Dec 19 '17 at 11:55

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