I had already been very sorry but with your behaviour, I was extremely disappointed.

(Instead of "but I was extremely disappointed with your behaviour")

I was good at software programming but at hardware technologies, I was very bad.

(Instead of "but I was very bad at hardware technologies")

This city is not close to London, but to Manchester, it is very close.

(Instead of "But it is very close to Manchester")

What do you think about that word order? I know that they are strange but I don't know whether they are grammatically correct or not. Because as you know, something can be grammatically correct even if it is strange.

  • I think many of your questions would be better suited to a linguistics site. Your interest seems to lie with the marginal.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 16:03
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I tried to ask my questions on that forum for a few times, but they asked me to ask them here. I think that there is something wrong with the definition of the word "linguistics" since I am going there and getting asked to come here, I am asking them here and getting asked to go there. It seems that no one knows what "linguistics" means :)
    – Jawel7
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 16:10
  • You need to make clear to them that you're living on the edge :-)
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 16:12
  • Yes, I need :) I don't know why it happens to me, but I am really interested in the structure of English, which is why I have been trying to learn why something I said is correct or why that is wrong. Something may sound good but does it mean that it is really correct? I don't think so. It may be because of my being a mechanical engineering student. You can guess that we are really keen on the technical/theoretical subjects as engineers, and English is one of them for me :) @Tᴚoɯɐuo
    – Jawel7
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


There is nothing grammatically or idiomatically wrong with your phrasing. This sentence order is somewhat more dramatic and emphasizes the object of the adjective (behavior, technologies, Manchester, etc.), rather than the adjective itself (disappointed, bad, close).

I ordinarily don't care for lobster, but with this bisque, I found it delicious.

In the above sentence the emphasis is on bisque to indicate that this case (the lobster soup) is different from the other, similar cases.

It also would not be uncommon to use a semicolon or a long dash before "but" in each sentence, to further exaggerate the dramatic pause.

I ordinarily don't care for lobster -- but with this bisque, I found it delicious.


When you provide a rhetorical basis for the "strange" word order it's fine:

This town isn't close to London, but to Manchester it's quite close.

The somewhat unnatural formal structure highlights a contrast. Perhaps the reason might be to emphasize that the town is not isolated; there is a large city nearby, even if it is not London.

But without an evident rhetorical basis for the word order, the sentence just seems like an oddity:

To Manchester the city is quite close.

In the year 2018 that is hardly "natural" conversational English, even if it is grammatical.

So, yes, you can uproot the adjective complement and place it ahead of the subject, but native speakers only do this when there's some basis for doing so. It is not an equally viable alternative under all conditions.

  • I see what you mean, however, I don't think that we can generalize this usage, which means that it depends on the type of complement. If our complement is an infinitive clause, It doesn't seem possible to me to put it at the beginning. Example, - I am really eager to play computer games, but to hang out with my friends, I am really not eager. I don't think that this one works because "to hang out with my friends" shouldn't be separated from its adjective. What do you think?
    – Jawel7
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 16:23
  • There's nothing intrinsically different about to play computer games and to hang out with my friends that would allow the one to be severed from eager and prevent the other. I am not eager to play computer games, but to hang out with my friends I am eager, so I'll just have to sit in front of a screen if I want to enjoy their company. Separating the complement from the adjective is equally "wooden" in either case.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 17:03
  • Could you please show me such a real example from a book or Google? According to my academic research(I read some linguistics researches), "to hang out with my friends" is one of the objects of the main verb "be=am". It is just like a normal verb. I + want + you + to do something want = the main verb, you = the object of the verb "want", "to do something" is the complement of "you" but the other object of the verb "want" at the same time. So you can't put "to do something" at the beginning even if you would like to emphasize it.
    – Jawel7
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 17:22
  • In the same logic, I don't think that it is possible to put "to hang out with my friends" at the beginning because it starts to function as an infitinive clause giving a purpose. However, there is nothing to explain a purpose there. So finally, it must be next to the adjective, in my opinion. Prepositional phrases can be located flexibly but infinitive clauses can't. They can function as objects of a verb but prepositional phrases can't. So, they are my opinions :)
    – Jawel7
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 17:25
  • to hang out with my friends is not an object of I am. It is a complement of predicate adjective eager. I am eager to hang out with my friends. I am eager to go. I am eager to see her.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 17:25

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