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Usually, Whenever I insert other words (for example, adverbs) between modal verbs and the verbs coming after them, Microsoft Word asks for revising in the order of words. Is that insertion incorrect grammatically or style-wise?

Example:

It is not clear if that may, as an independent factor, affect the value.

I know that writers are advised to avoid split infinitive, but it is not grammatically incorrect and one may do it when there is no other way. Is is the same about insertion between modal verbs and the verbs after them?

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That insertion is not incorrect. It is commonly used, particularly when the adverb is used to modify the modal verb in phrases such as "You could always try rebooting" or "I should really go now".

A longer phrase in between can be trickier to parse, as you're leaving those readers hanging on that modal for half a sentence before letting them know the verb. Compare:

"He should, in all probability given these difficult circumstances, resign"

and

"He should probably resign".

I would use the longer version for deliberate effect rather than as neutral style.

In your specific example, you don't have the option of moving the long phrase to the end, but you can move it next to "that" if you don't like it after "may".

  • Doesn't the emphasis changed at all if I move it next to "that"? And then isn't the split between "may" and its subject, which is "that", make the revision a worst alternative? – Sasan Jun 29 '17 at 9:30
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    I don't have a strong preference - I would slightly prefer next to "that" as "that" is the independent factor. – Derwin McGeary Jun 29 '17 at 9:44

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