Two questions:

1) Can there be a prepositional phrase between the verb and its objetcts as in this example:

"They see in front of their eyes the two towers."

or is that grammatically incorrect?

2) Am I assuming correctly that the following examples are not sound because of the word order:

Example 1: They visit to have a good time many countries.

Example 2: He told that I was employed Marie.

  • Yes, it is possible to ‘postpose’ a direct object over a PP, but generally only when it's ‘heavier’ material than the PP, as in say You’ll find on your desk the company’s latest financial statement, but not in You’ll find in the top drawer of the black filing cabinet alongside the window the company’s latest financial statement. Your two examples are ungrammatical because you can’t normally postpose over a subordinate clause, like the infinitival clause in ex1 and the content clause in ex2
    – BillJ
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


1) Yes, you can have a phrase like that; sometimes commas are inserted to make it clearer (but are not strictly necessary for short simple sentences), e.g. "They see, in front of their eyes, the two towers."

On an unrelated note, it seems a little redundant to qualify "see" with "in front of their eyes", since I am yet to hear of anyone with the ability to see something that is not within view of their eyes.

2) No, the object needs to be next to the verb here:

"They visit many countries to have a good time." or "In order to have a good time, they visit many countries."

"He told Marie that I was employed."

  • But, of course, "in front of their eyes" could be used to contrast with the houses that they see out of the corner(s) of their eyes. Or (arguably, idiomatically) to contrast with towers that they see indirectly, e.g., in a photograph or drawing, on television, or possibly even in a mirror. Or figuratively: "Jeffrey has an interesting hair style; I can see myself wearing my hair that way." Or "They read the engineer's report. They see (that) the two towers are structurally unsound." Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 16:58
  • @Scott, true. Perhaps what was intended was to convey that they saw something literally (rather than in a photo, drawing, etc. as you say). In which case I would have suggested "with my own two eyes" as the idiom to use. Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 1:19

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