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Are there any rules on the positioning adverbs should take in a sentence?

My question concerns the adverb position in perfect tenses. For example look at these sentences:

Your settings have been successfully saved.

Your settings have been saved successfully.

In our English lessons at school we have learned that adverbs usually follow verbs. Is only one of the above sentences gramatically correct or is it rather a question of language style?

If you search for these phrases using Google, you will find out that both are frequently used. And again:

Both are frequently used.

Both are used frequently.

Both sentences sound correct.


1 Answer 1


Both are perfectly correct grammatically.

I found this paragraph from Wikipedia which nicely sums up the points I was going to make.

Adverbs indicating the manner of an action are most usually placed after the verb and its objects We considered the proposal carefully, although other positions are often possible. Many adverbs of frequency, degree, certainty, etc. ... tend to be placed before the verb they usually have chips, although if there is an auxiliary or other "special verb", then the normal position for such adverbs is after the special verb (or after the first of them, if there is more than one): I have just finished the crossword, she can usually manage a pint, we are never late, you might possibly have been unconscious. Adverbs that provide a connection with previous information (such as next, then, however), and those that provide a context (such as time or place) for the sentence, often come at the start of the sentence: Yesterday we went on a shopping expedition.

So in the first example you posed, I would prefer the second.

Your settings have been saved successfully.

In the second example you posed, I would prefer the first.

Both are used frequently.

  • 1
    Per my comment to the question, I think it's meaningless to express a preference in OP's two specific examples. Aug 31, 2012 at 17:47
  • Did you choose these sentences just by instinct? I am asking because your choice (Both are used frequently.) contradicts the Wikipedia article as many adverbs of frequency [...] tend to be placed before the verb.
    – 1' OR 1 --
    Aug 31, 2012 at 17:48
  • 1
    @Luke: There is no concept of "grammatically correct" in OP's examples. There's just idiomatic usage, and the fact that in some cases (such as really) speakers have chosen to make a distinction between two possible meanings. Aug 31, 2012 at 18:04
  • 1
    Well, "saved" probably isn't common enough to track historical usage, but with run, for example, there's no obvious preference among writers at large. Wikipedia's "principle" strikes me as about as useful as I before E except after C (which is to say - not much use at all, and possibly misleading! :) Aug 31, 2012 at 18:14
  • 1
    This is a general rule that I stated. It is not hard and fast. It does not affect the grammaticality of either. It is simply the more common place to put the adverb.
    – Luke_0
    Aug 31, 2012 at 18:30

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