I was solving a question for TOEIC prep, and found this sentence. The question was

"The River Thames last ______ over three decades ago."
1. freeze
2. froze
3. frozen
4. freezing

The book says the answer is number 2 because the structure of the sentence goes like:

The River Thames(subject) last(adverb) _______(verb) over three decades ago.

However, somehow the placement of the adverb in the sentence feels so foreign. I mean, it is a foreign language to me, but this feels unusually foreign to me. Isn't there a certain rule to place adverb in a sentence? or you can place it anywhere?

  • 1
    The item is about verb tense, not adverb placement, but in this instance the resource has it right. Read it aloud to yourself 20 times, listening closely to the sound of your own voice - hear the English. And notice that in my comment I'm placing adverbs conveniently close to the verbs they modify. Good luck. – Rob_Ster Jan 17 '18 at 18:32
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    As an altogether separate issue, the sentence is, of course, ambiguous. Is the verb "froze" or "froze over"? They are different. "Froze" would just mean that some parts, perhaps near the river banks were frozen. "Froze over" would mean that it froze all the way across. So did it "freeze over", three decades ago? Or did it "freeze", over three decades ago? – WS2 Jan 17 '18 at 18:59
  • 'Last' as an adverb conveying the 'the last time' sense is not used all that often, and then only in a formal register, which is why it may sound odd here. With this sense, it must be positioned before the main verb. He was last seen leaving the cinema. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 17 '18 at 23:24
  • @EdwinAshworth I'd say "last" as an adverb in this sense is pretty much an everyday expression, in any register. Could this be a north v south of England oddity? "When did Oldham Athletic last win at home?" – WS2 Jan 21 '18 at 15:20
  • @WS2 'When's the last time Norwich won at home?' is much more often encountered in conversation. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 21 '18 at 19:12

That's the usual way of saying it. There are other possibilities, but to me they pretty much require "for the last time" instead of just "last" -- before "over", after "ago".

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