I'm trying to write a quote that conveys that time wears down everyone (in that it spares none). In order to emphasise 'everyone' it seems it should come before 'down' (Ex. You let everyone down). However the phrase "Time wears everyone down" doesn't sound quite right.

My question is which of the following is both grammatically correct and correctly conveys what I want to -

  1. Time wears everyone down.

  2. Time wears down everyone.

Suggestions to put it in an alternate way are also welcome provided they're just as concise and include the verb "wear down".

  • 1
    The idiomatic phrasal verb wear down is transitive and its object is subject to Particle Shift; i.e, both (1) and (2) are correct, and there is no difference in meaning. Any difference is purely stylistic on the part of the speaker, and probably has more to do with the intonation and rhythm of the syllables in the sentence than with anything else. – John Lawler Oct 27 '18 at 17:41

The phrase is:

to wear + SB + down/out

There is no “wear down/out + SB”

  1. is correct.

  2. is not.

  • 2
    2. is not actually incorrect. If the object is excessively long, we would put "wears down" first. But for short objects, down usually comes afterwards. For example, I can find on the web "... wears down the long time leader Canopy of Stars at the last." This sounds much better than "... wears the long time leader Canopy of Stars down at the last." – Peter Shor Oct 27 '18 at 16:03
  • I use this for the reference en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/wear – hbtpoprock Oct 27 '18 at 16:15
  • That's a definition. It doesn't actually specify the position of down, which behaves as it does in all phrasal verbs with movable particles. – Peter Shor Oct 27 '18 at 16:41
  • You can see that the Oxford Learner's Dictionary explicitly uses a double-sided arrow ⟷ to show that down can come on either side of the object. See their Guide to Symbols. The regular Oxford dictionary doesn't do this because it expects its users to know how phrasal verbs behave in English. – Peter Shor Oct 27 '18 at 21:54

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