1. "Put the box down."
  2. "Put down the box."

Which sentence is grammatically correct? If they are both correct, which one is used more and by whom (while you're at it, correct me on usage of 'whom' and single quotation marks if I used them wrong).

If it helps to answer this question, we usually say "put it down" as opposed to "put down it", and in fact, the latter expression is not even grammatically correct in the slightest bit whereas both (1) and (2) seem equally viable from the perspective of an ESL speaker (that would be me) although by convention, I usually say (1) even though I think I've heard stern mothers in American movies use (2) when shouting at their child (although maybe they say "Put down that box!" instead).

  • In terms of single quote marks: the commonly followed standard among publishers seems to be to consistently use either single or double, and only use the other for nested quotes. See the following article: Single Quotes or Double Quotes? It’s Really Quite Simple. (It's actually not "really quite simple," as the article shows, but there does seem to be a fairly clear consensus among professional publishers.)
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 23:45
  • Your use here of double quotes around the sentences and phrases and single quotes around "whom" doesn't follow that standard. I would recommend italicizing whom rather than using quote marks to indicate that you're mentioning rather than using the word.
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 23:47
  • Both sentences are correct. They carry slightly different emphasis. Both are of course imperative, but the second carries somewhat more of a sense of urgency and authority.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 0:26
  • Thanks to everyone, but why is everyone replying via commenting? I can't upvote you if you're not actually replying.
    – FriskySaga
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 2:06
  • There is this silly rule that "answers" have to provide some sort of "documentation".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


The sentences are both correct, but the order puts the emphasis on different things. "Put the box down" has an implicit emphasis on the box, whereas "Put down the box" has an emphasis on the action of putting the box down.

  • I hope I selected Best Answer correctly! Let me know if I didn't do this properly.
    – FriskySaga
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 16:13

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