The company last year reported...

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Senior Member
First, promise me there are no stupid questions. ;)

Here's the text:
... [the business]
also makes mouths water on Wall Street. The company last year reported sales of $185 million. Not bad for two guys who...

How come "last year" has been put in the middle of the sentence? I thought English has a fixed word order and the modifier of time should be put either at the beginning or at the end: Last year the company reported... or ...of $185 million last year.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Oh no no no, not fixed order. There is a great range of choice for adjuncts such as adverbs, time phrases, place phrases, and the like. Typically, there are initial, medial, and final possibilities. It is very hard to generalize. Sometime one position will not be allowed for a particular word or type of phrase; sometimes they might differ in style or naturalness.

    Medial time phrases sound a bit formal to me. Still, they're quite normal. Your example has it before the main (lexical) verb; by experimenting with multiple auxiliaries we find that time phrases go after the first auxiliary:

    The company will next week announce its new design.
    The company have over the last three quarters posted a loss.
    The company should in the coming months be seeing an improvement in its position.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    Last year, the company reported sales of X
    The company last year reported sales of X.
    *The company reported last year sales of X.
    The company reported sales last year of X.
    The company reported sales of X last year.

    The * one is a different construction ("last year sales" - the sales figures for last year) but it uses the same words. Generally, you can't do that but in this case the "adverb phrase" also works as an "adjective phrase".
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