EN: quickly - adverb placement

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by JustAnotherGuy, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. JustAnotherGuy New Member

    Canada
    français
    Hello everyone.

    I am French but I need to write a recommendation in English. I have a doubt about a sentence: where should I put quickly in this context.

    He impressed me with his ability to quickly understand and apply new concepts.
    or
    He impressed me with his ability to understand and apply new concepts quickly.

    Which one is correct?

    Thank you for your help!
     
  2. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Bonjour et bienvenue ! :)

    Les deux sont possibles, mais la première me semble plus naturelle.
     
  3. JustAnotherGuy New Member

    Canada
    français
    Merci pour votre réponse. Cela me semble plus naturel aussi. Merci aussi à l'editeur qui a corrigé mon post.
     
  4. L'Inconnu Senior Member

    US
    English
     
  5. KittyKittyKitty Member

    English - UK
    You would be understood if you said either; however, the first sentence, since it involves splitting the infinitive 'to understand', is technically incorrect and to be avoided. That said, few people would notice or care (unless they are pedantic like me :) )
     
  6. L'Inconnu Senior Member

    US
    English
    I did notice a 'slight' difference in meaning. As I see it, when the adverb is placed at the end of the sentence, it seems to modify both verbs, 'understand' and 'apply'. Whereas, in the first sentence, the adverb only seems to modify the verb 'understand'. I judged this subtle distinction to be unimporant.

    And, BTW, I hope you don't knock Gene Roddenberry too.

    "To boldly go where no man has gone before.''

    Now, if you do have some reservations about the above statement, you could point out that it should say 'no one'. And, if I had reservations, I would be pointing out that the statement is too presumptuous. How do we know for sure that nobody has been there? Furthermore, having watched numerous Star Trek episodes, I can now assert that the statement is actually false. Every so often, unexpectedely, they did encounter human life elsewhere in the cosmos. So people had been there long before Captain Kirk and company.

    Either way, I don't think splitting the infinitive is a 'big deal'. In fact, you could even call poetic.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  7. waltern Senior Member

    English - USA
    I've been under the impression that the prescriptivist notions of a few 19th century grammarians about the split infinitive have generally been considered irrelevant for a few decades now...
     
  8. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    True. However, in the second sentence, note that the adverb may modify only the last verb, namely "apply." Likewise, the adverb may modify both verbs in the first sentence.
     
  9. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    I don't quite agree; for me, the fact that they both take the object concepts emphasizes that they are also both modified by quickly. If I intended it to only modify one of them, I'd have split the object too, something like to understand new concepts and quickly apply them.

    I have no objection to boldly splitting the infinitive. (OK, here it doesn't count because to is a preposition. I tried. :rolleyes:)
     
  10. KittyKittyKitty Member

    English - UK
    Hi all,
    I fear my input may have been slightly unpopular. Sorry. I don't really feel at all strongly; I just thought 'Just Another Guy' should be aware, as some people do.
     
  11. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    Your opinion is very welcome, whether or not some of us agree. :)
     
  12. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    I was going to raise Kitty's point, actually. Not that I mind - I think "Don't split an infinitive" is a dumb dogma that isn't and never has been an actual rule of English usage. I'm also not quite sure if this is a cut-and-dry case of splitting an infinitive.

    That being said, there are some crazy people who get quite upset about "split infinitives." So when I'm writing for a critical audience - that is, an audience that will be seriously evaluating what I'm saying - I try not to split infinitives unless absolutely necessary. It just seems safer that way. Why risk alienating your audience, even if it's because they're misguided in their pedantry?

    If "quickly" at the end feels slightly less smooth, why not "I was impressed by how quickly he understood and applied new concepts"? That also has the benefit of making "understand" and "apply" into verbs...
     

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