in (a) timely manner?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by boozer, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. boozer Senior Member

    Hello again!

    While writing a document today, I had a ruction :) with my word processor, who which tells me there is a grammar error in my sentence below and is adamant that I should remove the "a":

    The staff would like to receive in a? timely manner information regarding the outcome of...

    My initial reaction was to tell my word processor to go jump in a lake. :)Then I googled some 26-7 million results for "in a timely manner" as against a bare 1/2 million for "in timely manner" and went for the more popular version.

    But half a million is still many hits, so I thought what if the poor machine has a point here? :)

    What do you think?
  2. Bigote Blanco Senior Member

    The staff would like to receive, in a timely manner, information regarding the outcome of...

    , in a timely manner, is correct. Maybe your machine wanted the commas.
  3. boozer Senior Member

    I agree the commas make the sentence more fluent, definitely. But - no, it wanted the "a" removed :)

    Thanks for your answer, BB :)
  4. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    The grammar checking function of word processors is really not very smart. By its limited rules, the splitting of "to receive information" is questionable so it suggest that you change it. It was never "a" that was the problem, but removing the "a" satisfied some other combination of its rules even though it made an incorrect sentence. In addition to the comma solution, you can also move things around:
    The staff would like to receive information in a timely manner regarding the outcome of ...
  5. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Having examined briefly the first one hundred of the 7,500 Google Books hits for 'in timely manner', it seems to me this truncated version is used by natives on two occasions: in headlines and titles, and in academic notes and documents. Examples:
    Client brought legal malpractice claim against former attorneys based on failure to file suit in timely manner.

    In addition to a thorough history and physical examination, the clinician must consider factors such as patient age, sex, and risk factors for specific abdominal emergencies in order to identify the correct diagnosis in timely manner.

    But there is a rationale for legislative election to fill shorter term vacancies: this is election by those who are themselves chosen by the people when a popular election cannot be held in timely manner.
    However, my first reaction upon reading your sentence was that the phrase is inserted too early; I would have wanted the verb 'receive' to stay together with its object:
    The staff would like to receive information in a timely manner regarding the outcome of...
    (Maybe that's what the processor was thinking.)
  6. boozer Senior Member

    It's because the phrase in question is the sentence's highlight. :)

    Come to think of it, Myridon may be right - I must have satisfied some other combination by removing the "a" and thus made the machine happy :)

    And, yes, Estjarn - your clipped-style sentences are natural English (well, clipped one, but natural :) ) and the absence of "a" does fit the style. Never thought of that, actually :)

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