I have this phrase (created myself)

He was entering into the office slowly / Slowly, he was entering into the office.

(there shouldn't be difference I suppose)

Now, the rules say that if I have an adverbial phrase of place or movement, it should be placed at the beginning when fronting.

  • My question is: Having both an adverbial phrase of place and an adverb, may I say

Slowly, into the office was he entering
Into the office, slowly, was he entering

  • One more question: is fronting (like negative inversion) and the abovementioned "case" used in speech? If yes, is it used only in formal speech?
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    Please note: This does not answer your question, but pl. note that when 'enter' is used with a place, there is no need to say 'enter into' as in 'they entered the cafe,' 'he entered the office.' The use of 'enter into' is more appropriate for situations like 'they entered into a marriage / contract / agreement' 'he entered into a long course of study' etc. May 11, 2017 at 17:28
  • Thanks. WIth reference to ur correction, is there any way to know which preposition each word takes? (like Believe IN) May 11, 2017 at 17:33
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    Sorry to say that English is not so easy to work out by rules! I was just giving you the convention of usage regarding 'enter.' Similarly 'believe' or 'believe in' applied in the same sentence can make a big difference in the meaning, as in 'I believe him' and 'I believe in him' -- it is not about rule but about context -- simply by READING A LOT of good English from varied sources, (I could, and) you can learn how to use the right expression in the right place! May 11, 2017 at 17:42
  • Never did I think of this difference between believe and believe in in a context, but I do see the meaning of each one. Anyway, I had doubts on this matter, as I've been studying for CAE, using a CAE/CPE book, which is well provided with lots of information. The drawback of this fact is that there are many things such as fronting that may be constructed in several ways and be used with other "rules". I don't know if I made my point clear. What I meant is that in a certain way when we begin a sentence with a that clause ( That I hate you is true) is fronting but on my book, it's badlyexplained May 11, 2017 at 17:47
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    Your problem is well addressed by the kind member Chaim in the first answer. As I said, learning English is a long and intuitive process where rule books serve only as a 'guide' -- the encouraging thing for you is that English is very flexible and accommodates a wide variety of unconventional usages. I AM SURE you will improve very quickly as you become very familiar with the language through wide reading! May 11, 2017 at 17:52

3 Answers 3


I agree with that comment of English Student: "enter a room" does not require "into." That's a point about syntax. But I think that your question was not about the syntax of "enter," but about the word order in some comparable situation, with a verb that would take a preposition.

Your sentences sound strange to me. I think that the most natural order (without fronting) would be "He entered the office slowly." Next, for emphasis, "Slowly he entered the office."

Those would be possible with a verb like "walked," which would take a preposition in this context. In such a case there would be three expressions to order: (1) He walked (2) into the office (3) slowly.

I think the natural orders (without fronting) would include.

  • He walked into the office slowly.
  • He walked slowly into the office.

Next in terms of naturalness, I think, you could say:

  • Slowly he walked into the office.

Remaining arrangements don't sound to me like native syntax:

  • Into the office he walked slowly.
  • Slowly into the office he walked.
  • Into the office slowly he walked.

I think that if I read one of those last examples I would assume that the author was not a native speaker, or that he was trying to produce some sort of literary effect.

  • Thanks fou your replying. Well, on my book it's said that a phrase like "He jumped out of the water" could be transformed in this way "Out of the wated he jumped" . Then, there's another example where it's demonstrated how to "front" an adverbial phrase. This is the phrase "They walked slowly into the garden." and it becomes --> "Slowly, they walked into the garden. May 11, 2017 at 17:53
  • I was wondering how I should use fronting when in my phrase there's the verb "be" plus an adverb. May 11, 2017 at 17:53
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    @FrancisRickOnorato As Chaim says in the answer "...not a native speaker, or that he was trying to produce some sort of literary effect" -- I am not a native speaker of English myself, but native speakers rarely 'front' a sentence with an adverb such as 'slowly' -- that's why it sounds strange. Such sentences are seen more often in literary writing such as stories and novels; as in 'slowly, he picked up the letters scattered on the floor, and carried them into his office' where it is indeed a matter of emphasis or a more expressive way of writing. May 11, 2017 at 18:03
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    @FrancisRickOnorato in short, such constructions are old fashioned and literary (as seen in some very old English poems, plays and early novels) but sound irregular to the modern reader in most contexts; so you are advised to avoid such sentences unless you are absolutely sure their use in the specific situation is appropriate! WHEN IN DOUBT, DON'T USE. May 11, 2017 at 18:09
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    You forgot one very common and natural-sounding order: “He slowly walked into the office”. Also the last three (and various permutations of them) are definitely native—they're just limited to particular contexts. I'd be very surprised to hear anyone utter them in natural conversation, but I wouldn't bat an eye if I saw or heard them in a poem or a song lyric. May 11, 2017 at 18:55

Unless you have a really good reason to say "He was entering [into] the office....", I wouldn't recommend it. The verb form "...was entering..." might be OK in some cases, but in this case I think the ordinary past tense ("...entered...") would be better. And there's also the problem of "into". You see, "enter into an office" normally means "take on the position or rank". When a successful candidate is inaugurated, he or she enters into the office or position of [whatever: President, chairman, archbishop, etc]. I don't think this is what you meant. Instead, I assume you mean "enter the office", which normally means "go into the office, i.e., the room where business takes place". I recommend, then, that you say "He entered the office..." and omit the "into". Be that as it may, let's take your originals:

  1. He was entering into the office slowly. This sentence is OK, but, as I mentioned above, I would omit "into". Try He entered the office slowly or He slowly entered the office.

  2. Slowly, he was entering into the office. This sentence is grammatical, but not as good as Sentence 1. I think the comma after "Slowly" can be omitted. Try Slowly he entered the office.

  3. Slowly, into the office was he entering. Grammatical, perhaps, but extremely awkward; and it remains awkward if you write "into the office he was entering". I would not use this sentence.

  4. Into the office, slowly, was he entering. This sentence too is grammatical but extremely awkward, and I wouldn't use this one or its variant "...he was entering" either.


In order to make inversion sound less awkward, let me first make your example "invertible":

(1) None other than Donald Trump was entering the office slowly.

Note that I have changed 'he' into 'none other than Donald Trump' and removed 'into', and that I have used the term 'inversion' instead of 'fronting'.

(2) Entering the office slowly was none other than Donald Trump.

(3) Slowly entering the office was none other than Donald Trump.

I think either (2) or (3) is better than (1).

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