1. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    What are the proper kinds of change in word order?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Feb 9, 2018.

    I seem to be putting words in orders that people object to. So I want to ask what kinds of changes in word order are acceptable. I thought that you can move around things standing in the place of adverbs pretty freely, (not anywhere of course), things like prepositional phrases, participle phrases, and adverbs themselves.

    For instance:

    The sun appeared at dawn. At dawn the sun appeared. The sun, at dawn, appeared. Aren't all these sentence correct?

    Please help because I seem to be using the wrong kind of word orders, and I need to correct that problem.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I can't believe I'm getting sucked in, but...

    I think you need to distinguish between "grammatically correct" and "stylistically effective". Each of those sentences is grammatically correct, but each of them has a subtly different effect on the reader. They each convey the same basic meaning, but there are shadings of meaning that change. Depending on the desired effect, the surrounding sentences, etc., any of the sentences may be the best choice for a given piece.

    I hesitated to write any of that because I'm worried it'll send you back into one of your "I carefully select the right word in order to create the rhythm I desire" spirals. So please bear in mind: There are orders and phrases that readers expect. If you deviate from those orders and phrases, you'll be calling attention to the deviation. That can be good, if it's your goal to call special attention to a certain phrase. But if all your phrases deviate, there's not enough attention to go around and your reader will just be stuck in a morass of oddly phrased sentences. So, in general, it's best to use words and phrases in the way readers expect them to be used.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
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  3. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    So what are the expected word orders? Were any of the three sentences I posted in violation of those orders? Also, is it possible to put words in a certain order, acceptable to readers, that produce desired stylistic effects? What does too much deviation from expected word orders look like? Do you mean grammatical or stylistic word orders?

    I'm trying not to argue, but to ask questions in order to learn.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    The expected word orders are just the way normal human beings speak/use words. You can pick this up by reading extensively, but also by listening to people. (Of course our spoken language is generally much less coherent than our written language, but you can still get a fair idea).

    In general, I wouldn't say any of those sentences is completely unexpected, although the last one is stylistically ugly to me in this specific context. Like, "The sun, at dawn, appeared," seems pointless and awkward because none of those words deserve the level of attention they're being given by the syntax. But if it was, for example, "The murderer, as expected, appeared," I'd probably be fine with it because those are more dramatic words that deserve the comma-related pauses.
     
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  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Either of the first two - the third one is unlikely to be used, although still grammatically correct. (Although that said they are all a redundancy since dawn is pretty much defined by the sun appearing)
     
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  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Does the sun appear at any other time than dawn?
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Hardly ever in the UK :D

    The sun appeared briefly, below the cloud deck, decided it didn't like what it saw, and sank below the horizon in disgust
     
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