While I was reading the news today on bbc.com, I came across the following sentence.

The assassination by the US of Iran's most powerful general caused tensions between the two countries

The way it is written sounded a little bit odd to me linguistically. If I were to write the sentence I would say "the assassination of A by B caused tension" because this sounds better to me.

But in the bbc editor says "the assassination by B of A caused tension". And this sounds a little bit different.

And I am confused. So which one is correct? or are both structures correct in terms of good english?

1-"the assassination of A by B caused tensions." 2- "the assassination by B of A caused tensions."


  • 1
    Both versions are grammatical. Putting the phrase Iran's most powerful general at the end of the sentence places an emphasis on it. It's just a question of writing style. – Kate Bunting Jan 9 '20 at 10:15

Both are grammatically correct. However, both are poorly worded.

A common sentence structure is "subject + verb + (direct object)". The reader / listener naturally wants to know (who) + (did what) + (to something) in that order. Both of your sentences say first (what happened) "assassination", then we wait to hear (who did it) "US", then lastly (who was assassinated) "a general". That ordering is not wrong, just not ideal. This is best:
The US assassinating Iran's most powerful general caused tensions...*

This also uses fewer words which is always best. The sentence is more "active" with a (present participle + object) modifying the subject which is a good style to keep the reader's attention.

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