For most intransitive verb phrases consisting a verb and a (main) adverb, any extra complementary adverbs should go before the verb or after the main adverb, not between the verb and main adverb. For example, sentences 1 & 2:

  1. They quickly went away on a vacation.
  2. "They went away quickly on a vacation.

are standard, and sentence 3:

  1. They went quickly away on a vacation.

is not standard.

But then, I saw this:

Beyond the right-hand shoulder of the road, just north of the Dyckman Street exit, the land falls steeply away to the Hudson River.

The intransitive phrasal verb "fall away" means to slope downward. But, is "fall steeply away", with "steeply" sandwiched between "fall" and "away", a little awkward? Would "steeply falls away" or "falls away steeply" be better?

  • 2
    You're correct in noting that it's best not to separate the components of a phrasal verb. Mr Blumethal made a choice based on style here. To him, the land falls steeply away to the Hudson River sounds more rhythmical, more musical, than the land falls away steeply to the Hudson River. Most writers are more concerned with style than form, and I wager Mr Blumethal didn't think for one moment about preserving the integrity of the phrasal fall away. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 30 '16 at 20:08
  • 1
    The phrasal integrity is not disturbed by the separation, and away to the Hudson is preferable to steeply to the Hudson. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 30 '16 at 22:11

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