Where should the adverb "poorly" go in this sentence?

  1. The primer and coating poorly react to...
  2. The primer and coating react poorly to...

2 Answers 2


Both forms are correct, however the second option sounds more fluent.

As described here, adverbs that describe the manner of something usually go at the end of a clause, unless they are not the most important part of the clause.

In your sentence, "The primer and coating react poorly...", the emphasis is on the adverb "poorly".

This is because the point of this sentence is not to tell us that the primer and coating react, but rather the extent to which they do. Thus, it is more approproate for the adverb to be at the end.

  • I'd consider 'poorly reacted to' at best unidiomatic / weird-sounding. I'd mark this as being incorrect. The fact that 'reacted poorly to' occurs 100 times as frequently in the results of Google searches would seem to indicate that many agree. Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 15:27
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth er, so you disagreed with the first sentence of my answer and then disregarded everything else..? I explained that "reacted poorly to" was the better option after pointing out that both forms were grammatically correct. If it's only the first sentence that's bugging you, you could just edit my answer and delete it.
    – as4s4hetic
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 17:59
  • If a student in maths wrote '2 x 3 = 5. Or 6. Or half a dozen', I'd mark that wrong. Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 21:39

In your first sentence: The primer and coating poorly react to... This use suggests that you are expecting a reaction, but your result is poor. Which means there is a reaction, but just barely. An example would be if the coating was supposed to be non-reflective and ends up reflecting light. In that case, it poorly reacted to the test condition.

In your second sentence: The primer and coating react poorly to... This suggests that while testing, there was a condition that damaged the primer and/or coating. An example of that would be a weak acid that partially dissolved the coating. In that case, the coating reacted poorly to the acid by dissolving partly.

Standard use would be the second phrasing.

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