Related question to adverb placement

Which is the correct placement of "of" in phrases like "consists roughly of".

Linked question enumerates these possibilities:

  • "primarily consisted of"
  • "consisted primarily of"

However, I have also seen this, and I'm not sure if it's equally correct, or not:

  • "consisted of primarily ..." or
  • "consisted of roughly ..."

Is this usage of "of" correct?


  • Placement of prepositions, auxiliaries, and adverbs is normally determined by the predicates they're used with. This seems to be a question about the verb consist rather than anything general about adverb or preposition placement. Take a look at the example sentences with consist in the OED and you'll see the full range of what consist allows. Oct 18, 2022 at 17:26
  • 1
    'Roughly' is a difficult case, usually being used in the quantity-approximator sense ('comprises roughly 34% tin...) but also used in such cases as 'They have roughly the same tastes in music.' Placement is context-variable. May 5, 2023 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


It is surprisingly difficult to come up with general rules for adverb placement. Huddleston and Pullum (2002) give one account of such rules based on categorizing adverbs by semantic meaning, but their account acknowledges a fairly large number of exceptions and differing degrees of acceptability.

In this case, it is probably best to refer to the wisdom of the crowd, courtesy of Ngram Viewer, which shows that "consisted primarily" seems to be preferred.

  • Thanks for the pointer to the Ngram Viewer
    – Brad
    Jun 3, 2023 at 0:45

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