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Two letters arrived on Monday, and a third arrived on Wednesday.

Two letters arrived on Monday, and a third came on Wednesday.

Two letters arrived on Monday and a third on Wednesday.

Two letters on Monday and a third on Wednesday arrived.


Does using the verb come in the second independent clause, rather than using arrive again make the whole sentence better?

Is using synonyms okay, or, on the contrary, does the verb come make the sentence confusing? I am just trying to develop a style. I'd like to ask which one sounds better for a formal writing like a short story.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, user140086, TimLymington, curiousdannii, MetaEd Apr 25 '16 at 17:43

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Some people may vote to close this as opinion-based. I think both of the first two sentences sound fine. Using "came" is not confusing or distracting. You can even use a flashier synonym like "showed up" to add some color, as in: "Two letters arrived on Monday, and a third showed up on Wednesday." – GoldenGremlin Apr 23 '16 at 21:58
  • 2
    Define "better". – Drew Apr 23 '16 at 22:36
  • Requests for writing advice are off topic. – MetaEd Apr 25 '16 at 17:43
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I can't really suggest which is best for your style, @Mrt, but sticking to proper grammar is almost always advisable!

The first three sentences are all grammatical. The fourth one, though, is very awkward; I don't believe you can successfully insert an adverbial phrase between a subject and the verb (much less two of them).

This is different to a single-word adverb, which can go just about anywhere in English:

I walked to the store rapidly.
I walked rapidly to the store.
I rapdily walked to the store.
Rapdily, I walked to the store.

Those are all fine; selecting one is, as you say, a matter of style. However...

On Wednesday I walked to the store.
I walked to the store on Wednesday.
PROBLEM: I on Wednesday walked to the store.

Here, only the first two work, because 'on Wednesday' has not been forced between the subject and the verb.

The problematic version could be used with commas, but the effect is weak:

I, on Wednesday, walked to the store.

  • A single adverb has no trouble living between a subject and a verb: He *awkwardly danced the tango.* The fourth sentence is very awkward but the word order isn't the problem. Consider Monday's two letters and a third on Wednesday arrived sealed in plain brown envelopes. – deadrat Apr 24 '16 at 6:17
  • I would say that your example is fine, @deadrat, because 'and a third on Wednesday' is functioning as another subject. It simply gets inserted into the unobjectionable sentence 'Monday's two letters... arrived...'. – Dodecaphone Apr 24 '16 at 7:14
  • "Two letters on Monday and a third on Wednesday" has the same structure, i.e, a compound subject. – deadrat Apr 24 '16 at 7:31
  • Would you really say to someone (in speech), 'Two letters on Monday arrived', @deadrat? – Dodecaphone Apr 24 '16 at 7:36
  • Even with single-word adverbs, you can't do this: *"Jose expertly and Robert awkwardly danced the tango." It has to be "Jose expertly danced the tango, and Robert awkwardly did so." – Peter Shor Apr 24 '16 at 11:40

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