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I'm confused about which one is correct : well exploit or exploit well and what is the rule ?
I wanted to use it in the following sentence:

the people didn't exploit well the resources

thank you in advance :)

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(A short comment first: I'd use the generic "People" rather than "The people.")

The general rule says that adverbials should come after objects, so a more correct sentence would be:

  • People did not exploit the resources well.

"well" is quite a light adverb and perhaps a better one should be found for your sentence to sound more idiomatic, as well as semantically richer. It also does not sound nice at the end of the sentence, after a comparatively longer object like "the resources". However, note that the mentioned problem disappears with a pronoun as direct object: "People did not exploit them well."

I suggest revising your sentence as follows:

  • People did not exploit the resources effectively / successfully / properly.

The rule also says that (usually one-word) adverbs of manner can also be placed between the subject and the verb and in the middle of verb forms consisting of more than one word, and that they usually have to be placed in mid position in the passive voice:

  • They quickly exploited their advantage. (simple tense)
  • The resources were not well exploited. (passive voice)
  • The architect has cleverly exploited new materials. (perfect tense)
  • The company is widely exploiting its recent discovery. (continuous tense)

Unlike longer, more meaningful adverbs like the ones above, "well" can only be found in mid position in active (non-passive) sentences when it takes an intensifier, e.g. You very well know who is to blame.

It also appears as forming part of compound adjectives like "well-known".

  • thank you for responding, concerning your note, this phrase is taken from a paragraph, in which we are talking about a specific people, people of an island, so in this case I guess I can use 'THE' – aName Feb 13 '17 at 9:08
  • @aName Yes, in that case "the" is fine. – Gustavson Feb 13 '17 at 9:50
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I think the sentence should be phrased

the people didn't exploit the resources very well.

since you are trying to describe how much advantage was taken from the resources. The equivalent would be

the resources were not well exploited.

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