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)

  • Can you provide the exact source for #2? – StephenS Oct 9 '20 at 19:00

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".

  • "...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 '20 at 18:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.