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I am writing a test about passive constructions and I have the following questions: Where do I have to put the by-agent. For example: Sarah wrote the email yesterday.

A: The email was written by Sarah yesterday.

B: The email was written yesterday by Sarah.

Which of them is correct? Are both correct?

Thank you for your help!

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    Both are understandable, but keeping the by-agent closer to the predicate sounds more natural; e.g., "The email was written by Sarah yesterday." – Mark Hubbard Jan 18 '17 at 14:59
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A: The email was written by Sarah yesterday.

B: The email was written yesterday by Sarah.

Although some grammars refer to the by phrase as a Complement of the verb, it is not.

It is an Adjunct. This means that it is not an essential part of the sentence. We can stick it onto the end of the sentence to give more information, but it is completely optional.

In the Original Poster's sentence there is another Adjunct, the word yesterday.

If we have more than one Adjunct at the end of a sentence, we can often put them in either order and the sentence will still be grammatical. The order of Complements of a verb is usually fixed, but Adjuncts are more flexible in terms of their placement.

For this reason, both of the Original Poster's sentences are grammatical.


Grammar note:

Some people use the term Adverbial instead of the term Adjunct.

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    What if the adverbial offers information that is necessary to complete the thought of the sentence ... then, it is not an adjunct, right? Just askin :) – Marah Jan 19 '17 at 14:37
  • @Marah Well, then strictly speaking it ain't no Adverbial either! Because - if I understand you correctly - it would be a Complement. You might find THIS POST HERE interesting!! Specially the bit about preposition phrases and adverbials :) – Araucaria Jan 19 '17 at 15:01
  • I was asking about the grammar note :) Some people use the term Adverbial instead of the term Adjunct. Thanks for the link :) – Marah Jan 19 '17 at 15:13

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