It says that the position of adverbs should come before the verb and the example they give is:

We will soon have a break.

In this example, is it not acceptable to have the adverb after the verb:

We will have a break soon.

Or to be technically correct, should it be future continuous:

We will be having a break soon.

  • 3
    The "continuous" aspect has no bearing on usage here. And it's not true that adverbs of time such as soon, later, eventually have to come immediately before the verb. Idiomatically, We will later have a break is unlikely, but apart from that all other permutations of [X] we will [X] have a break [X] are perfectly normal (for those specific adverbs; often works in all three positions, but never only works between will and have). Oct 24 '15 at 17:48
  • 1
    The restriction on never is the basis for the humor riffing on the old New Yorker cartoon: "How about we get together never? Is never good for you?"
    – deadrat
    Oct 24 '15 at 18:16
  • Yeah i thought it seemed okay, not sure why that particular example was there. They have some other examples with tenses that didn't quite hit the mark either, even with their own definition.. but it's free a education so i can't complain. Thanks! Oct 24 '15 at 19:04
  • No, it doesn't. Oct 24 '15 at 22:14
  • Soon, we will have a break.


  • We soon will have a break.

Grammatically acceptable, but not commonly said/written.

  • We will soon have a break.


  • We will have soon a break.

Invalid word order. Sounds foreign.

  • We will have a soon break.

Invalid word order.

  • We will have a break soon.



(There is no discernible difference in meaning among any of the "Good" constructions above.)


In his textbook TSPE, James McCawley gives an interesting taxonomy of adverbs which distinguishes them by what they modify. Clausal adverbs can modify any of S, V' (i.e., VP), or V, and this difference in what they modify is one factor in determining their placement and interpretation. Time adverbs like "soon", according to McCawley, are fundamentally V' modifiers, but they can be "Raised" to be S modifiers.

In general, McCawley says, we expect modifiers to occur either immediately before the constituent they modify or immediately after. Then for a time adverb like "soon", we expect it will go immediately before the V' that it modifies, immediately after that V', or if it is raised to become an S modifier, it will come immediately before or immediately after the S that it modifies.

Since each auxiliary verb in English, according to McCawley, heads its own V', this leads us to expect at least 3 possible positions for "soon" in a simple clause with no auxiliaries. "Soon he leaves" / ??"He soon leaves" / "He leaves soon". When there are auxiliaries, such an adverb ought to also occur after any auxiliary verb.

Overall, McCawley's theory works only moderately well. There are many problems.

Now, for something completely different, I'll outline my own theory of adverb placement in English.

Adverbs, as well as other clause constituents, have characteristic embeddedness, and since English is a right branching language, less embedded constituents come before more embedded constituents. When two constituents have equal embeddedness, they can occur in either order.

The differing degrees of embeddedness are 0, 1, 2, 3, unspecified. Except for 0, these correspond to the 1, 2, 3, chomeur of Relational Grammar. The 0 degree of embeddedness is for vocative nominals, root clauses, and performative adverbs like "frankly". "Soon" is a 2, so it should follow any 1 (subject). I would need an arbitrary adjustment comparable to McCawley's "Raising" to account for sentence initial "soon".

  • You could improve your answer by defining terms: do S and V stand for subject and verb, or for sentence and verb? What do 0,1,2,3, mean? Mar 26 '16 at 12:11
  • @PeterShor, S stands for sentence, and V stands for verb. 0, 1, 2, 3 are degrees of embeddedness, as I said. The 1, 2, 3 of Relational Grammar stand for grammatical relations; in Relational Grammar, 1 does duty for the traditional "upright" case, the nominative, and 2, 3, and other grammatical relations are something like the traditional oblique cases: accusative, dative, and so on. But grammatical relations are not the same as cases.
    – Greg Lee
    Mar 26 '16 at 12:22

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