a woman tall and beautiful

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Senior Member
Can one say (or rather write)
a. In the doorway stood a woman tall and beautiful.
b. A woman tall and beautiful stood in the doorway.


The sentences are mine.

The style is literary, or maybe even flowery! (a) sounds fine to me, but (b) doesn't.

Many thanks.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I agree that there's a difference between them, but it's hard to say why. Possibly the initial locative in (a) puts focus on the postposed subject, and that focus is what makes it more tolerant of being followed by modifiers. The test of that would be if focus in other positions sounded more like (a) or (b):

    (c) It was a woman tall and beautiful who stood in the doorway.

    And yes, I feel this has the literary quality of (a) without the oddness of (b).
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