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I was wondering if there is a specific preference for the soon position in the following line:

You will receive a message with the activation link soon.

Or if it is better/more common to use:

You will soon receive a message with the activation link.

Is it merely preference or does it have other implications? At first sight I don't really see a form of intonation here that might make the sentence give a different meaning.

My primary language is Dutch, so I might make some mistakes in this field :)

In Dutch we would say:

Je ontvangt zo spoedig mogelijk je activeringslink per email.

But can also say:

Je ontvangt je activeringslink zo spoedig mogelijk per email.

Which in both cases zo spoedig mogelijk refers to the same principle as the soon in the English form. zo spoedig mogelijk means as soon as possible, whereas binnenkort might better refer to soon as in a bit.

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One way of looking at the problem is in terms of another idea of language in addition to the old ‘subject - verb - [object]’. This is the more semantic distinction into ‘subject (=topic) - predicate’. It divides the sentence into ‘what I am talking about’ (subject/topic) and ‘what I am saying about it. This allows us to understand not just the grammar and truth conditions if a sentence, but its intended significance. This can be done by the manner in which the statement is phrased.

I love you. is very different from It’s you I love.

The same can be done by varying the order of the words. The extent to which this is possible depends on the language and its syntax an accidence. So in Latin, because it is highly inflected. you can move subjects and objects around with relative freedom. In English the lack of inflection reduces the scope, but adverbs you can move. Wow! I was able to move the object out of its normal position so that it is more clearly the subject (in the sense of topic) of the sentence.

That is what is happening with ‘soon’ in your passage.

A useful way of thinking about it is as if it were the answer to a hypothetical question (unasked)

You will soon receive a message with the activation link.

This would answer a question like ‘What happens next/now?’. The Topic is what happens next.

You will receive a message with the activation link soon.

This is more suited to the question ‘When will I get the activation link?’. The topic is not the event so much as its timing.

In this context, therefore, the difference is marginal. Do you think the user is wondering what happens next, or is wondering about whether there will be a long wait? Probably neither, since it is the standard procedure. So stick to the former!

  • Thank you Tuffy, this was really clear and good to understand :) – User2910293 Jan 24 at 18:07
  • I was just wondering about a rare quirk in Dutch. If you say for example "I'd like that muffin also". That "also" in the end is sometimes said in Dutch too as a dangling word, but is incorrect there, but it isn't in English right? Maybe I'm wrong tho :) – User2910293 Jan 24 at 18:14
  • @User2910293 Right! – Tuffy Jan 24 at 18:18
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"Is it merely preference or does it have other implications?"

Yes, it does have semantic significance as to where the adverbial appears in a sentence.

The adverb may be placed before the related verb:

You will soon receive a message with the activation link.

It may appear after the object/complement:

You will receive a message with the activation link soon.

Or to emphasise the adverbial itself, at the front:

Soon, you will receive a message with the activation link.

  • If it does have "semantic significance", why don't you explain what it is? – michael.hor257k Jan 24 at 8:52
  • @michael.hor257k Which is what the rest of my answer is all about. – Kris Jan 24 at 8:53
  • No it isn't. It's all about placement, it says nothing about the meaning. – michael.hor257k Jan 24 at 8:56
  • @michael.hor257k Read again, take your time. – Kris Jan 24 at 8:58
  • I think I have read it correctly the first time. Spare me your condescending attitude. – michael.hor257k Jan 24 at 8:59

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