I would like to ask what is the difference between these two sentences:

a) We need to prioritize badly injured people.

b) We need to prioritize people badly injured.

Is b) stressing more the fact that there are people injured?

  • Both 'badly injured people' and 'people badly injured' are noun phrases which function like nouns. Hence, grammatically both are equal, and correct. – Ram Pillai Dec 13 '19 at 16:14

No, there is no inherent difference in meaning between the two options. But Option A reads more clearly.

The noun phrase in this sentence contains three words: people, injured, and badly. The noun is people and the other two words act as modifiers. The word badly is modifying injuired, and together they modify people.

The common model for noun phrases is to place modifiers before nouns. So the preferred syntax here is badly injured people.

  • I guess the questioner knows those kinds of grammatical things. What matters to him/her might be whether there is any practical difference in use between a) and b), and if so, what it is. So an expected answer might be "Yes/No" first of all, and then its reason. – Toothy Dec 13 '19 at 17:59
  • Good call @Toothy -- I have updated to answer the question directly. – skippy619 Dec 13 '19 at 18:03

Just to add another option...

If you want to emphasise that you’re prioritising specifically those with worse injuries you could phrase it...

we need to prioritise people injured badly.

This states that people with superficial injuries are less of a priority than those with worse injuries.


The phrase "We need to prioritize people badly injured." strikes me (native BrE speaker) as badly translated from some other language. The first phrase " We need to prioritize badly injured people." is clear.

If you wanted to emphasise people (who are badly injured) as distinct from, say , animals, then you could say " We need to prioritise those people who are badly injured". The word 'those' helps to define where you emphasis lies.

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