I am being told that this sentence is not in a proper construction:

"Answers arrive in a piecemeal fashion."

Neither Book Google nor standard Google search yields a single result using quotation marks, which seem to support the claim. However, I cannot find what is wrong with it. I have used variations, but with little success.

"Answers arrive piecemeal."

"Answers come through bit by bit."

I notice that "arrive piecemeal" is appropriate, given that "piecemeal" is an adverb, in which case is modifying the verb "arrive." The same with "through bit by bit," and even "Answers come through." I have also seen a few examples of "arrive in a piecemeal manner." Would the problem be with using "answers" as a plural noun rather than a singular verb?

I could use your help (if this is not the appropriate forum, please, let me know). Thanks

  • Past tense: "Answers arrived in a piecemeal fashion." – mfoy_ May 30 '16 at 20:27
  • Future tense: "Answers will arrive in a piecemeal fashion" – mfoy_ May 30 '16 at 20:27
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    The original phrase sounds fine to me. Did you get an explanation of why it wasn't constructed properly? What is the context? Could it have just been that it needs "The" at the start? – Tim Malone May 30 '16 at 20:28
  • @mfoy_ As it is currently it would be present tense – Tim Malone May 30 '16 at 20:28
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    The sentence is fine as it is, but the tense and tone tell me there is a larger context at play. If this is in the middle of a paragraph describing a process where every sentence is also present tense, then it's fine. – Josh English May 31 '16 at 0:20

There is nothing wrong with the original sentence. Consider:

Fred sits at his desk, searching the Internet for clues. Answers arrive in a piecemeal fashion.

As Josh English suggests, there is a larger context. If, as my example illustrates, the sentence is in the middle of a paragraph describing a process, and if the other sentences in that description are also present tense, then the sentence as originally stated is perfectly proper.

  • This answer is perfectly fine. +1 – Richard Kayser Oct 9 '16 at 5:11

To me, what may be what's causing the sentence to sound slightly off is that it's missing an object. Where or to whom do the answers arrive?


  • answers arrived at my inbox in a piecemeal fashion
  • answers arrived from the simulation in a piecemeal fashion


  • I'm not sure I agree. I wouldn't have a problem with - "The answers are coming in thick and fast". This sentence (whilst informal) doesn't describe an object. – Jordan Jun 10 '16 at 16:54
  • Since the OP does not cite a specific issue from the comment they received, it seems to be a subjective comment and open to interpretation. YPMV - your parsing may vary. – lonstar Jun 10 '16 at 17:12

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