Monday, October 4, 2010

Position of Adverbs in English Sentences

The position of English adverbs often varies in active and passive sentences. It tends to be more restricted in active voice than in passive. In certain cases, however, it is equally distributed in passive and active.

Consider the following sentences:

a) He detonated the bomb carefully.
b) He carefully detonated the bomb.

Though sentence a is more common than b, both are acceptable.

c) The bomb was detonated carefully.
d) The bomb was carefully detonated.

In sentences a-d the adverb can be placed before or after the verb. Here the adverb position is equally distributed in active and passive.

Now consider the following sentences:

e) They treated her unfairly.
f) *They unfairly treated her.

g) She was treated unfairly.
h) She was unfairly treated.

In active voice the adverb must be placed after the verb. In passive voice, however, the adverb can also be placed before the verb.

Here are more examples:

i) Laura sent the invitations electronically.
j) *Laura electronically sent the invitations.

k) The invitations were sent electronically.
l) *The invitations were electronically sent.

In sentences i-k the adverb must be placed after the verb in both active and passive.

Now consider the following sentences:

m) She sang beautifully.
n) *She beautifully sang.

o) It was sung beautifully.
p) It was beautifully sung.

In sentences m-p the adverb position is not equally distributed. The adverb must come after the verb in active but is not restricted in passive.

The rules for adverb position in English can vary in the active and passive voices. In certain cases the adverb can precede or follow the verb in both voices. Sometimes it is equally restricted and must be placed after the verb. Other times the adverb can precede or follow the verb in passive but must follow the verb in active. Though the adverb in English sentences can be equally distributed in active and passive, the adverb position tends to be more restricted in active than in passive.

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