In my essay the sentence

The results can be clearly seen.

was corrected to:

The results can clearly be seen.

What is the rule behind this correction?

Most of the time I use "can be" together without any words in between. Is that wrong?

  • They mean different things. Use whichever version is relevant. #1 see clearly; #2 it is obvious that there are results. Admittedly, #2 can be parsed to mean #1.
    – Lawrence
    Dec 28 '19 at 15:12
  • Would you elaborate? thx
    – user40
    Dec 28 '19 at 15:13

"Clearly" is ambiguous between interpretations as a manner adverb ("in a clear manner") or as a sentence adverb ("it is clearly the case that ..."). In your first example ("The results can be clearly seen"), in my opinion, the preferred interpretation is as a manner adverb, but the interpretation as a sentence adverb is also possible.

For the second example ("The results can be seen clearly"), with primary stress on "clearly", the interpretation is that of a manner adverb. However, with primary stress on "seen", it's a sentence adverb.

In sentence initial position ("Clearly, the results can be seen"), it's a sentence adverb, and also when the adverb comes after the subject ("The results clearly can be seen"). It's also a sentence adverb when it comes after the modal "can".

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.