During a recent heated conversation I said "You are absolutely a pedantic snob."

The person I was speaking with corrected me that it should be "You absolutely are"

Lack of self-awareness aside and for the sake of my own personal curiosity, is that a valid placement of an adverb in relation to a verb like "are" or "is"? I know it is unorthodox, but is it technically incorrect? This person frequently makes formalities in language structure out to be actual rules.

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    The individual of which you speak was simply being pedantic. – Hot Licks Apr 21 '18 at 23:21
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    There's a difference: how much you are determined/known to be a snob versus how much of a snob you are. To see the difference, imagine that absolutely refers here to probability or certainty (e.g. 100% sure) versus degree of snobness. The first says that it is 100% sure that you are a snob (of some degree or another). The second says that you are (with unspecified certainty) 100% a snob - an absolute snob. And yes, this is pedantic, and virtually no one recognizes or relies on such a difference. – Drew Apr 21 '18 at 23:50
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    Such usage (arguably) belongs to informal style, which is not the same as being ungrammatical; see e.g. CGEL, pp. 6-11. 'It is not that formal style keeps to the rules and informal style departs from them; rather, formal and informal styles have partially different rules' (p. 8). Your phrasing is certainly well attested. – linguisticturn Apr 22 '18 at 0:16
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    Adverbs can move around, but to my ears the delay of absolutely puts more emphasis on the adverb, so that the degree of snobbery becomes more important. Sentence two seems matter-of-fact. It may have to do with the rhythm of the syllables. You/are ab/so lute/ly Short and long syllables, iambic. – Zan700 Apr 22 '18 at 0:32
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    The 'absoluteness' should be attached to the word 'pedantic'. 'You are an absolutely pedantic snob.' (If one really wants to be pedantic about it.) – Nigel J Apr 22 '18 at 0:50

The sentences CAN mean entirely different things.

"You are absolutely a pedantic snob."

The word absolutely here is simply an intensifier of the insult. The sentence isn't semantically distinct from "You are a pedantic snob." The absolutely serves only to convey the emotion and intensity with which the speaker is communicating.

"You absolutely are a pedantic snob" sounds most to me like a rebuttal to a claim that one is not a pedantic snob.

He: "I am not a pedantic snob."

You: "You absolutely ARE a pedantic snob." [capitals used for tonal emphasis]

In the case that it is said apropos of nothing, the meanings between the two arrangements are interchangeable.

But suffice it to say, your friend absolutely is an absolutely pedantic snob.

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