I've read this sentence on a US internet news site (huffpost.com): "Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller in a series of leaked emails pushed white nationalism[...]."

I've always thought that place ("in a series of leaked emails") goes after the verb and the object ("pushed white nationalism"). But I guess a news site probably uses correct grammar, so what's the rule? Has it changed recently? Is it permissible outside of news speak?

Thank you for your answers!

1 Answer 1


But I guess a news site probably uses correct grammar...

If only that were true! Sadly, you will encounter poor English grammar and spelling quite frequently even in the most highly regarded print news media.

That said, this sentence is grammatical. You are right that normally the "place clause" would go after the main verb. But English word/clause order is flexible in some cases, and changing the order is usually done to emphasize some part or another of a sentence.

In news headlines and articles, this flexibility is very important and often exercised, because journalists know that many readers who are skimming the text will stop reading after a few words. It is therefore valuable to put the most important and eye-catching information as early in the sentence as possible. I would guess that in the opinion of this journalist (or editor), emphasizing "leaked emails" is more likely to grab a reader's attention and interest than "white nationalism." Whether this is true is a matter of opinion, but this is the kind of consideration a writer can take into account when choosing the order of a sentence.

  • Would it sound weird if I used this word order in a normal conversation? Such as: "My supposedly waterproof boots on reaily muddy trail actually do leak water inside." Nov 22, 2019 at 20:05
  • @TomášPártl That does sound a little weird (and you need an article: a really muddy trail) but it is not wrong.
    – TypeIA
    Nov 22, 2019 at 20:16
  • It's quite common to put a prepositional phrase at the front of a sentence for emphasis, e.g. "In this weather you need a good pair of boots". English allows a lot of flexibility about where to put phrases, but putting it after the subject is rare in speech (unless you're making it up as you go, and forgot to put it at the start). It is more common in writing where it can be used to provide variety, permit parallelism, eliminate potential ambiguity, replicate disordered though processes in fiction, prioritise certain facts, etc.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 19 at 16:05

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