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(1) I'm a great life guard, always paying attention.

(2) I'm a great life guard, paying attention always.

I understand that (1) is the convential way to write the sentence, but I would never write a sentence like that. (2) on the other hand has a nice ring to me, but I have been told repeatedly that it is incorrect. Is it? If so, what is the rule? I'm not a native speaker, but I feel like (2) is an 'ok' violation of traditional word order to put more emphasis on the sentence. Follow-up question: In general, am I ever allowed to slightly bend language rules for emphasis?

  • It wouldn't sound weird to me in spoken english but it depends on where you live. Some word order bending's cool but it really depends on context. – Slepz Oct 13 '16 at 21:59
  • @Slepz context is a cover letter of a job application (obv sentence has different content). job application is written in american english. – Max Oct 13 '16 at 22:02
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    marynell/grammar/washington.edu/ declares that 'always' should never be used in clause-terminal position. I disagree, and prefer your version (2) for emphasis ('at all times' is certainly acceptable in terminal position, but sounds weak here.) A TESOL article states: 'At other times, for the sake of emphasis, we can put some [frequency] adverbs at the beginning or the end of a clause.' But it doesn't specify which. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 13 '16 at 22:58
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    There is no authority charged with rounding up those who bend (or even break) rules of English. However, without rules, language would be chaotic. There has to be a balance between observing rules and being free enough to express oneself as one wishes to. The first thing to do is make sure that we have the rules right, and that all grammarians agree they are rules rather than just guidelines. Then we have to be really clear that 'bending' a rule will in fact make the improvement we want rather than lead to loss of clarity, ease of reading, or elegance of style. Getting ... – Edwin Ashworth Oct 13 '16 at 23:09
  • to the point where we have the necessary competence to do this takes years (I've been told). – Edwin Ashworth Oct 13 '16 at 23:12
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marynell/grammar/washington.edu/ declares that 'always' should never be used in clause-terminal position. I disagree, and prefer your version (2) for emphasis ('at all times' is certainly acceptable in terminal position, but sounds weak here.) A TESOL article states: 'At other times, for the sake of emphasis, we can put some [frequency] adverbs at the beginning or the end of a clause.' But it doesn't specify which.

There is no authority charged with rounding up those who bend (or even break) rules of English. However, without rules, language would be chaotic. There has to be a balance between observing rules and being free enough to express oneself as one wishes to. The first thing to do is make sure that we have the rules right, and that all grammarians agree they are rules rather than just guidelines. Then we have to be really clear that 'bending' a rule will in fact make the improvement we want rather than lead to loss of clarity, ease of reading, or elegance of style. Getting to the point where we have the necessary competence to do this takes years (I've been told). – Edwin Ashworth

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