What's the difference between the following two sentences:

  1. On Wednesday I went shopping

  2. I went shopping on Wednesday

  • There's no difference at all in meaning. In syntax, one has the prepositional phrase at the beginning and the other at the end. In pragmatics, the addressee is invited to guess at the reasons why the speaker might have fronted the temporal adverb instead of leaving it at the end. If the addressee is familiar enough with the speaker's habits and concerns, they may be able to do so. That's as far as linguistics goes. – John Lawler Jan 14 '19 at 19:52
  • Why are you saying that on Wednesday “is” an adverb? Parts of speech apply onto to individual words. On is a preposition and Wednesday is a noun, Neither is an adverb. – tchrist Jan 14 '19 at 21:45

I would say the difference is that your first example emphasizes when the event took place, and the second example emphasizes what you did at that time. Otherwise the two examples mean the exact same thing.


In reply to "Why didn't you go shopping on Thursday?" your sentence 2 would be a normal reply, since it would explain that you didn't need to go shopping on Thursday because you had already done so on the previous day. However, your sentence 1 with normal sentence intonation would be incoherent.

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