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I'm writing some code and as I wrote a comment I realized I don't know which of the following forms is the correct way to phrase it:

  • The moment there no longer are any valid blocks, the loop terminates in the defrag section.
  • The moment there are no longer any valid blocks, the loop terminates in the defrag section.

Is one of the forms completely wrong and should never be used (or maybe, god forbid, both)?

And assuming at least one is correct - which one is better suited for this case?

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  • The phrase “no longer” serves an adverbial function, so search for “adverb placement” on this site. Jun 26 '15 at 14:23
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    Adverbs and other adverbials are idiosyncratic in their distribution. There no longer are any. is a grammatical sentence. There are no longer any valid blocks. is fine – either unmarked, or with 'any' stressed. There are no longer any. sounds distinctly unidiomatic to my ears. But There no longer are any valid blocks. works, and I'd choose it if I were stressing the 'are' (ie emphasising the change in the status quo). Jun 26 '15 at 14:31
  • @BrianDonovan Thank you. You even included a link to the search :) EdwinAshworth Why not as an answer? Jun 26 '15 at 14:46
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The expression are no longer seems to be significantly more popular in the corpus:

enter image description here

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  • I was sure that there needed to be more filtering out of false positives. Existential there might make quite a difference. Then there are constructions like 'bacteria are no longer than ...' etc. But <<there no longer are any,there are no longer any>> gives almost identical Google Ngrams. Jun 26 '15 at 14:37
  • I'm sure there are some false positives, @EdwinAshworth, but the raw data is almost a 60:1 ratio (with and without there), and it supports a very strong intuitive sense that the OP's usage is not idiomatic.
    – ScotM
    Jun 26 '15 at 14:49
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    As I say, I'd use it in certain context/s: "Good handwriting is essential. There were good reasons why people used to have to write neatly." "Yes, but there no longer are any valid reasons." Jun 26 '15 at 14:54
  • Agreed, @EdwinAshworth, that specialized comparative emphasis validates the rare correct usage.
    – ScotM
    Jun 26 '15 at 14:56

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