I've read the rule which states:

One ought to put an adverb of manner after the main verb if the verb is intransitive, but if there's a direct object after the main verb and the verb is transitive you can put that adverb either in front of the main verb or after the direct object.

Following that rule, I've made up these sentences with the adverb of manner "well":

1) I sing songs well. / I well sing songs.

2) I play football well / I well play football.

But I'm not sure if they're all actually correct. Could you explain the right rule to me?

  • Generally, it is only some (not all) of the -ly adverbs that can occur between subject and lexical verb: "I definitely sing songs" / "I happily play football".
    – BillJ
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:46
  • Interesting. Are there any exceptions?
    – Let
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


The second form is not natural in any standard English, as far as I am aware. I can't give you a rule: I don't think there is one. But well is not used before the verb in that way. This also applies to badly. I'm think some other adverbs also don't work there, but I'm not sure which.

  • What about this sentence? "Josh badly needs to buy a new pair of jeans." The adverb of manner "badly" is placed in front of the main verb "need".
    – Let
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:48
  • @Rusletov: You're right. Badly can go before need and want. But it can't go before sing. Note that its meaning is bleached in those cases: it doesn't mean "in a bad way", it is an intensifier. Seriously and desperately can be used in the same way, again as intensifiers. But well can't be used in those cases. (In some varieties of current British speech well is used as an intensifier before adjectives, though not before verbs AFAIK.)
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:59
  • Child: la-la-la. Fond father: that was well sung! Dec 8, 2019 at 19:53
  • @MichaelHarvey. Mebbe. I'm inclined to think that sung is an adjective there, rather than verb.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 8, 2019 at 23:59

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