The class working collaboratively was somebody else's idea.

In this sentence, why is it possible to say "the class working collaboratively"? I have seen so many sentences with words ending in -ly form taking this type of form below.

The poorly lit room was very grimy.

It is not acceptable to say "room poorly lit", which led me to thinking that "the collaboratively working class" should be the correct one.

The collaboratively working class was somebody else's idea.

Any explanations please?


1 Answer 1


The word order is a matter of style. I see no obstacle to "room poorly lit":

It was a room poorly lit but extravagantly appointed.

A "class working collaboratively" means a group of students in a classroom working together.

A "collaboratively working class" collides with the socioeconomic term "working class."

  • Is it ok to say "Room poorly lit was grimy" without that but part? I was taught badly with grammar...
    – sooeithdk
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 2:28
  • Or "Room lit poorly was grimy'?
    – sooeithdk
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 2:34
  • English prefers noun modifiers to precede the noun, so the "red ball," not the "ball red." But it's possible as a matter of style to reverse the order in many instances. For instance in my sentence, I wanted to emphasize the description with a pair of adjacent "-ly-adverb+adjective." If you wanted to place the emphasis on the room for some reason, you could say "The room, poorly lit, was grimy." I hasten to add that the usual and expected order is "The poorly lit room," but writers can violate expectations (within limits) to make a point.
    – deadrat
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 2:39
  • "The room, poorly lit, was grimy." In this case, is comma just optional?
    – sooeithdk
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 2:44
  • 1
    I'm not sure what search terms would find web pages that would be helpful. Let me recommend, however, The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker, which discusses the interactions among grammar, style, and usage. Pinker talks about word order in linear English text and its importance in the parsing of the tree-like relationships contained therein.
    – deadrat
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 3:09

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