I'm trying to find the right way of expressing myself in a code comment. I have a list and I'm basically scrolling up/down in this list. Should I use scroll things up/down or scroll up/down things for this instance? Does the meaning change with these two usages at all?

  • Imagine a long scroll of paper with writing on it. You unroll from one end and take up the slack on the other in order to change what's visible. This is scrolling. So we can see that we are not "scrolling"/manipulating the items (the writing on the paper) but rather the paper itself. So I would say "scroll up/down through the list.
    – Jim
    Nov 28 '19 at 17:41
  • Is through necessary for this? Can we say "scroll up/down the list" instead?
    – orhun
    Nov 28 '19 at 17:53
  • You could just say "scroll [the] list up/down" or even just "scroll up/down"
    – Jim
    Nov 28 '19 at 18:01

The former is the better option. As a rule of thumb, it's safest to put the preposition before its object. This isn't a hard and fast restriction: sometimes it (makes more sense/sounds nicer/sounds more normal) to have the preposition after its object, but here, the "scroll things up/down" seems better with regard to sense and euphony.

Really, there is no major difference in meaning. Cf: "screw something up" vs "screw up something." They communicate the same thing, no?

  • If you say scroll things up, the preposition is after the object. Please make your answer self-consistent. Nov 29 '19 at 0:21
  • This is very old but no, I meant what I said. I'm saying the rule of thumb, which generally holds, can safely be discarded here for the sake of sound. There is no error. Jun 30 '20 at 17:03

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