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If I want to write something to do "easily", which is the best form?

Easily calculate running costs

or

Calculate with ease running costs

(or "Calculate with ease the running costs"?)

Do the two sentences convey the same meaning?

3 Answers 3

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Both easily and with ease are adjuncts of manner, the former taking the form of an adverb, and the latter taking the form of a preposition phrase.

There are three possible places in the sentence we could try inserting these adjuncts:

   Initial              Medial                    Final
   ----------           -----------               ----------
1. Easily     calculate             running costs                 OK
2.            Calculate easily      running costs                 VERY BAD
3.            Calculate             running costs easily          GOOD

4. With ease, calculate             running costs                 BAD
5.            Calculate, with ease, running costs                 VERY BAD
6.            Calculate             running costs with ease       GOOD

We can rule out examples 2 and 5 because an adjunct typically can't come between a verb and its direct object. (The exception is when a Heavy NP Shift moves a particularly large noun phrase to the end of the sentence, which can move it past an adjunct.)

This leaves four examples:

   Initial                            Final
   ----------                         ----------
1. Easily     calculate running costs                 OK
3.            Calculate running costs easily          GOOD

4. With ease, calculate running costs                 BAD
6.            Calculate running costs with ease       GOOD

Although it's possible for adjuncts of manner to appear in initial position, they typically appear at or near the end of a verb phrase, so examples 3 and 6 are better than 1 and 4. (In my opinion, example 1 is acceptable as well, but I think example 4 is too clunky to be acceptable.)

 3. Calculate running costs easily.
 6. Calculate running costs with ease.

I think these have the same meaning. They're both fine, but if you forced me to make a decision, I'd go with example 6.

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2

Some of it is context dependent.

I think I would say:

The dancer moved across the stage with ease.

because with ease seems to convey a stronger sense of poise and elegance than easily. We don't need to worry about gracefulness, though, when dealing with accountants.

Even with running cost calculations, though, it still depends on what we are talking about. Are we discussing a whiz kid in accounting who can keep track of numbers even without using a calculator or ledger – the kind of fellow who is feared by blackjack dealers in Las Vegas? In that case, I might lean toward "calculate with ease":

You should see Joe straighten up those corporate accounts. He can calculate running costs with ease.

However, if I was on a software development team being asked if we could calculate running costs in the next version of our accounting software, I think I'd lean toward "easily calculate":

I don't expect that would be very difficult; I think we can easily calculate running costs.

If both of them sound awkward in a certain context, you might consider using "no problem":

The programmers said it would be no problem to calculate running costs.

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  • I guess you r a developer of management tools. :) @J.R.
    – Kinzle B
    Jul 8, 2014 at 14:20
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Both expressions carry the same basic meaning, but easily is a bit less formal and much more common. That's what I'd use in the case of a product advertisement.

Note that the expression with ease is quirky in that has to follow the entire clause it's in, so instead of

Calculate with ease running costs

you would need to say

Calculate running costs with ease

or even

Calculate running costs per project, with optional category breakdowns, with ease

The longer the clause gets, the simpler it is to use Easily calculate.

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