Considering easily as an attitude or manner adverb, which of the following is correct?

He could easily have been killed.


He could have been easily killed.

  • Or "he easily could have been killed", "he could have easily been killed", "he could have been killed easily" -- There's nothing necessarily incorrect about any of those placements. Jul 19 '18 at 17:30
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Does the position of the adverb in a sentence change anything? Jul 19 '18 at 17:47
  • @FumbleFingers -- meaning and correctness are different. This may be enough of a difference to prevent it being a duplication, however the question you reference explains the relationship between placement and correctness.
    – Jay Elston
    Jul 19 '18 at 18:30
  • @Meysam -- what is the meaning you are trying to convey with the sentence?
    – Jay Elston
    Jul 19 '18 at 18:32
  • Adapting the answer from the linked duplicate, when "easily" comes before the verb, it is a sentence adverb. Constructions of the general form X could easily have happened / have been [passively] Y'd / etc. are by default interpreted as meaning it is quite possible that [the hypothetical action/event did, or at least could have occurred]. This interpretation is still the default even if the action was actually difficult [for somebody] to perform - all that matters is the likelihood, not how easy it might be / have been. Jul 20 '18 at 12:52

According to the Cambridge dictionary, adverbs of manner "usually go in end position.

They sometimes go in mid position if the adverb is not the most important part of the clause or if the object is very long."

"Where there is more than one verb, mid position means after the first auxiliary verb or after a modal verb:

The government has occasionally been forced to change its mind. (after the first auxiliary verb)

You can definitely never predict what will happen. (after a modal verb)

We mightn’t ever have met. (after the modal verb and before the auxiliary verb)"


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