I have seen many rules about position of an adverbs with finite forms of verbs but I can't find the rule about where to place an adverb with nonfinitive verbs. For example which of the sentence sounds right:

1) Slowly driving I could see a beautiful landscape, or:

2) Driving slowly I could see a beautiful landscape?

And the examples with Participle II:

1) I watched the temperature gradually rising, or:

2) I watched the temperature rising gradually.

If both of the sentences are right in both cases I would like to know in which case I need to use adverb before and after participle

  • The first two examples sound unidiomatic to me; I'd want Slowly driving along the quiet country lanes, I could see a beautiful landscape. But Driving slowly I could see a beautiful landscape works after Usually, I was in too much of a rush to appreciate the wonderful surroundings. Jun 7, 2015 at 21:53
  • Now I'm not sure any more. In a specific context, you could probably make any of those examples work, but... Slowly driving I could see a beautiful landscape sounds odd in the most obvious context. Driving slowly I... is fine. // After watch I would use an infinitive rather than a participle, but I'm not sure I would call the participle wrong. Either position of the adverb works for me with rise. Jun 7, 2015 at 23:23

4 Answers 4

  1. Personally, I don't like either sample of the 'slowly driving'. To me, these two sentences seem broken, without flow. The word 'could' should be removed because either you saw it or you didn't see it, etc. I would say: "I saw a beautiful landscape, as I drove slowly down the lane ..." or flip these clauses. Either way, the thought and image are more complete.

  2. In both sentences, the word should be the to-less infinitive, rise; The participle rising is out of place. Rising could be used as a mere adjective to describe the kind of temperature (rising vs falling). You could say: "I watched the rising temperature increase gradually," or "I watched the temperature rise gradually."


Such -ing constructions are commonly taken to be reduced clauses, so I think you'd expect adverbs to go where they would have gone in the full clause:

I was slowly driving my car
*I was driving slowly my car
I was driving my car slowly

Slowly driving my car, I could see a beautiful landscape
*Driving slowly my car, I could see a beautiful landscape
Driving my car slowly, I could see a beautiful landscape

  • 1
    The verb drive behaves differently when you add an object (my car): that's why your examples are indeed unidiomatic, but they are different from the OP's. At any rate, you'd have to prove that a participial construction's grammaticality can be tested by means of a full clause (I doubt it). Jun 7, 2015 at 23:07
  • @Cerberus, well, of course it's different when you add an object. The point, which you seem to have missed, is that it's different in just the same way, regardless of whether there is a finite verb.
    – Greg Lee
    Jun 9, 2015 at 1:25
  • I think I am still missing your point, because I don't even understand your comment completely. Why introduce a full clause, and why add an object? To me, I was driving slowly sounds fine, while I was slowly driving changes the meaning in an odd way; based on your answer, I would expect you to disagree, but I don't know what your opinion on the OP's examples is exactly. Jun 9, 2015 at 1:31
  • @Cerberus, changing the adverb position sometimes does change the meaning. If the meaning changes in the full finite clause in the same way that it changes in the reduced non-finite clause, then that supports the rule I proposed. If it changes in a different way, though, that is evidence against the rule I proposed. If we don't compare what happens in finite clauses with what happens in non-finite clauses, we'll have no evidence pertinent to the rule I proposed.
    – Greg Lee
    Jun 9, 2015 at 2:14

Once I saw the rule which said:

If an adverb is used as a definition of a participle, there may be a few cases:

a) The participle second (used as a definition of a noun).
In this case we place an adverb before a participle:
The newly painted fence was still wet.

b) The participle first (used as a modifier of action or time).
There may be two cases:

1) If there are no objects after a participle, an adverb is placed after a participle:
The children were crossing the street laughing loudly.

2) If there are objects or other modifiers after a participle, an adverb is usually placed before it:
I saw a men slowly walking to the gate.

When I saw this rule I was confused because for many people a sentence like slowly driving I could see a beautiful landscape sounds odd though in the rule above it is said that an adverb can be placed before the participle if there are objects after it.

  • 1
    That rule may be valid, but in your example there is no modifier or argument after driving: the comma ends the clause, and what follows does not modify driving at all. // Keep in mind that this rule is not hard and fast; that's why it says "usually", as you quoted. Jun 9, 2015 at 1:34

We are not aware of any any specific rule about use of adverbs in relation to participles.

Adverbs have easy access in the sentences. Adverbs, or for that matter adverbials make room for themselves at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of sentences. No other part of speech has as much liberty as has an adverb.The references that are made in this poster apply to the placement of adverbs in general, not particularly in relation to participles.

PARTICIPLES are verb-adjectives. For this unique dual nature, participles, according sentence-spcific demand, somewhere gains in adjectivity and at places,relegates it to verbal qualities. As: •A rolling stone gathers no moss.(adj. Predominance) •Hearing the noise the child woke up.(verb predominance).

To our mind, there must not be any difficulty as regards to the placement of adverb.

Generally adverbs of manner are placed after intransitive verb or after the object of the transitive verb and when adverb modifies an adjective,the adverb comes before it. Modifying adverbs may be viewed in this light.

In all the examples, "driving" is the participle from "DRIVE"-- a verb of course transitive,used intransitively. Hence,it invites so much of comments.

So far as I am concerned, none of the four examples is grammatically wrong. However, it is left to the learned moderators to accept the right one lest we may land on such a situation:

I saw a dead cow slowly walking on the field.

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