generally a + adjective + noun vs. a generally +adjective + noun


Senior Member
Does the position of "generally" make any difference in this sentence?

1) She is generally a good girl.
2) She is a generally good girl.

If both sentences mean the same, which sounds more natural?

Thanks in advance.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    1. I do not understand why Susan behaved the way she did. She drank a bottle of vodka and killed the cat. It is very surprising, she is generally a good girl. -> normally her behaviour is good -> we would expect good behaviour from her.

    2. I know that Lara stole some money, she is a generally good girl. -> although sometimes she may be good, sometimes her behaviour is poor/bad -> we can usually expect good behaviour but not always.

    1. is usually said with some surprise; 2. is usually said to explain or excuse bad behavior.

    In 1. the emphasis is on good
    In 2. the emphasis is on generally
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English, USA
    If you have to choose between the two for exam purposes you should opt for number 1. :) It's really hard to say exactly why. I would not say: "She is a generally good girl", although Paul has provided a good example of where it could be used. On the other hand, it is idiomatic to say: "She is an exceptionally good girl". Think of it this way: "Generally speaking, she is a good girl". However, you wouldn't say: "Exceptionally speaking, she is a good girl".

    Note, also, Vic's comment about how the adverb modifies the adjective.
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