I've seen this sentence in a text :

"I would always have liked to have..."

It's weird to me, I feel it would be better if I say this way:

"I would have always liked to have..."

What's the proper place for 'always' in third conditional sentences? Can it be both? Thank you!

  • 2
    The difference is one of style, not substance. Put it where you like it, and you can be confident that half of your readers will want it the other way, while the other half will want it as it is. – Robusto Oct 25 '16 at 21:08

Mark Liberman writes an interesting article on the history of this spurious "rule" in his Language Log blog.

There are some usage guides and older grammars (and the distinction between the two is important) which decree that an adverb shall never intervene between the parts of a compound verb. This so-called "split verb rule" is still being taught here and there, and perhaps due to the continued use of older textbooks in some non-English speaking countries, may be more often encountered by a new learner of English outside of English speaking countries than by a student in the U.S., the U.K., etc.

The current writer, having been taught the language in the mid-1950's in the U.S., was inculcated with this nonsense. However, the truth is that there is nothing in English grammar which prohibits separating the parts of a compound verb.

Where this "rule" arose is not known, but the Fowler Brothers, Henry and Francis, are prime suspects, because their The King's English (1908) was taken in its time as "gospel" by many teachers of the language (and is still viewed as authoritative by some.)

Today, as in 1908, there is no grammatical rule that requires that the parts of a compound verb like "would have liked" be forced together when good sense dictates that they should not be. You can and should write any of:

  • I would always have liked to have...
  • I would have always liked to have...
  • I always would have liked to have...

...or even:

  • I would have liked always to have...

If you should encounter an instructor who insists that the parts of a compound verb must always be yoked together, refer that person to the Language Log link above (or send them here!)

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