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I saw the following sentences on the cambridge online site.I made some changes and I want to know if they are applicable ?

1- They are digging up the potatoes. (Original)

2- A detective to dig up information about the employee. (Original)

3- They are digging potatoes up.(Edited from 1)

4- A detective to dig information about the employee. (Edited from 2)

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  • Can you provide the exact source for #2?
    – StephenS
    Oct 9, 2020 at 19:00

1 Answer 1

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Your sentence 3 is a totally commonplace / acceptable variant of sentence 1.

Sentences 2 and 4 are a more complicated case. I am not actually convinced sentence 2 is a sentence, which means it is rather odd to encounter it from a reputable TEFL source. It appears to me a sentence fragment. Perhaps somebody else can think of another reading whereby it is a fully-fledged sentence in its own right, but at the moment I can't.

Your sentence 4 has the same property, but this is obviously not your "fault" since it is like that in the original sentence.

However, the other change you make by removing "up" is a problematic one. To dig something is, idiomatically, to enjoy it or condone it. The phrase is strongly associated with hippies and counterculture of the 60s/70s ("Can you dig it?"), but still in occasional use today. Although the context makes it plain that this meaning it not intended - a detective would not be sitting around going "this is great info about the employee, I dig it", unless that detective was Shaft - it still makes the sentence somewhat awkward, and essentially forces the listener to complete the "dig up" idiom by mentally adding the "up".

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  • "...which means it is rather odd to encounter it from a reputable TEFL source." Indeed, but the OP didn't link to the original source (even though it is apparently online) so we can't be certain that it hasn't been accidentally altered.
    – rjpond
    Oct 9, 2020 at 18:13

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