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Thread: verb order

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Native language
    spanish
    Posts
    136

    verb order

    Hi everyone,
    I found this sentence and I would like to ask you if someone could explain the grammar to me.
    He gestured her to a chair next to a table on which sat the polygraph.

    I would write "sat" after polygraph.

    Thanks,
    Ubal

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    US
    Native language
    English
    Posts
    815

    Re: verb order

    Quote Originally Posted by ubal View Post
    He gestured her to a chair next to a table on which sat the polygraph.
    Odd, I expected a native Spanish speaker to be giving me the explanation, not the other way around. I can't come up with any grammatical explanation. Most likely the rules are the same as those in Spanish, except that English speakers don't use subject-verb inversion very often. When we occasionally do, it strikes us as a stylish or poetic way to express an idea.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Belgium
    Native language
    Dutch - Belgium
    Age
    56
    Posts
    10,403

    Re: verb order

    Las dos opciones son posibles.

    Edit: me crucé con L'Inconnu: Estoy de acuerdo con su comentario: es más común "on which the polygraph sat" pero las dos opciones son gramaticalmente correctas.
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Native language
    English-TEXAS
    Posts
    1,559

    Re: verb order

    The most common would be "...which the polygraph sat on." But dangling prepositions are not considered grammatically correct.
    Larry (I prefer it to being called Graham, prefiero Larry, no Graham)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Tacoma WA, US
    Native language
    English / US
    Posts
    21,541

    Re: verb order

    Not only are both options correct, but there are situations in which placing the verb before the subject is preferable; for example:

    He gestured her to a chair next to a table on which sat the polygraph that he had brought from the office of the chief of the local police department, who was an old friend.

    In general, informal or spoken English tends to place the verb after the subject, but the language does have the flexibility to do the reverse in some cases if the situation calls for it.

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