Adverb placement?

Subject: Adverb placement?
From: "Geoff Hart" <geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 08:49:26 -0500

Kathy Zaininger wondered << What is the correct (or preferred)
placement of an adverb: preceding or following the verb it

Would that it were so simple; the correct answer is "it depends". In
English, adverbs most commonly precede their verbs, and appear
as close to the verb as feasible to ensure there's no confusion
about what part of the sentence the adverb modifies. But that's not
a rigid or rigorous rule; there are many exceptions that arise from
usage (which often borrows from grammar without following it
slavishly) and many cases where the placement makes little

<<Which of the following statement is the correct (or preferred)
usage: A. If you frequently use the Dictionary, you can..... B. If
you use the Dictionary frequently, you can....>>

They both mean exactly the same thing, though there may be a
very slight difference in emphasis. I'd give a slight nod to A,
because a hasty or less-skilful reader might miss the comma in B
and assume that the adverbial phrase is "frequently you can..."
(That's particularly serious if the line break falls before "frequently".)

<<Sorry to clutter your Inboxes with such a basic question.>>

It's not so basic that it's not worth asking... ask anyone who is
learning English as their second language about adverbs, articles,
and other things we tend to take for granted and you'll see how the
little things can trip you up.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca (Pointe-Claire, Quebec)
"If you can't explain it to an 8-year-old, you don't understand it"--Albert Einstein

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