I'm writing my essay about corruption and I've come to a sentence into which I'd like to put an adverb, but I'm not sure about its place.

Corruption also can relate to unjustly gaining advantage over other people...

Should I place it before the verb and after to as in Split Infinitive?

...or should I choose the following sentence?

Corruption also can relate to gaining unjustly (?) advantage unjustly (?) over other people...

...or should I use the adjectival form of the adverb as here:

Corruption also can relate to gaining unjust advantage over other people...

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    The usual idiom here is probably "gain (an) unfair advantage over other people" and then the adverb is not necessary....
    – Lambie
    Apr 19, 2018 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


I believe all three of these are actually correct and fairly common:

  • Gaining advantage unjustly
  • Unjustly gaining advantage
  • Gaining unjust advantage

"Gaining unjustly advantage" is incorrect.

The three correct versions do carry different nuances.

"Gaining unjust advantage" in particularly is fairly different. It implies the advantage itself is unjust, but not necessarily the means by which the advantage is gotten.

"Gaining advantage unjustly" and "Unjustly gaining advantage" are almost the same. The difference lies in the emphasis.

It might be easier to reason about with "simpler" words. "I eat apples happily" and "I happily eat apples" are both grammatically correct. Putting the adverb before the verb increases emphasis on the adverb.

In "I eat apples happily", the focus is on you eating apples.

In "I happily eat apples", the focus is on you being happy.

In your example sentence, without the full context, I would say "Gaining advantage unjustly" is fine, but really "Unjustly gaining advantage" is fine too. It really depends on whether you want to focus on the fact that corruption leads to advantages, or corruption leads to injustice.


Most of the time it's good style to place the adverb before the verb. However, you can avoid the issue entirely, as there is an idiomatic expression that makes it moot:

Corruption can also relate to gaining an unjust advantage over other people.

This has a slightly different focus in that it's the advantage itself that is unjust, rather than the means used to gain it, but it may be closer to what you want to say.

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