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This kind of sentence is really prevalent in a variety of articles.

He is hewing out of the stone a piece of precious gold.

In my original thought, It should be like

He is hewing a piece of precious gold out of the stone.

So I curious that whether this method can apply to everything?

But it is ridiculous to say things like

I like in every aspect you.

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2 Answers 2

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This can be explained in terms of "end weight". The weighter (longer, more complex) parts of a sentence tend to come at the end.

So "I love in every aspect you" fails to have "end weight" The object is very short and very simple. The prepositional phrase is longer and weightier. End weight would imply that "I love you in every aspect" is more natural.

But in "He is hewing out of the stone a piece of precious gold." the object is "a piece of precious gold" which is longer and weightier. It is acceptable for this to go at the end, but it is not required.

For a final comparison, consider

I love in every aspect the girl who I met on my first day at high school and is now my wife."

Here the object is "the girl..my wife" and is very long and weighty. It is correct to put this at the end of the sentence.

The end weight principle is a guide or a description of how sentences are often constructed, rather than a strict rule.

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[1] He is hewing [a piece of precious gold] out of the stone.

[2] He is hewing out of the stone [a piece of precious gold].

Both clauses are grammatical and have the same meaning.

[1] is the basic construction with the bracketed object following and immediately adjacent to the verb.

In [2] the object is postposed over the preposition phrase "out of stone" in adjunct function.

Postposed elements tend to receive greater phonological prominence.

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  • can you clarify the meaning of "phonological prominence" especially in the context of written English. My understanding is that phonological prominence relates to aspects such as word stress and sentence pitch intonation, which doesn't seem to be the intention here.
    – James K
    Oct 31, 2020 at 12:45
  • Do you mean "end focus" which was referred to in this link english.cam.ac.uk/elor/lo/end-focus/index.html. It says "End focus is based on the general fact that different parts of utterances have different communicative values … and that normally NEW or important INFORMATION is reserved for the end.(Wales 2000: 126)" Oct 31, 2020 at 14:12
  • @PeterWang Yes, essentially: I think this is a case of emphasis being put on the direct object, rather than one of postposing complex material to the end of the clause. The object ("A piece of precious gold") is not really 'heavy' enough to warrant obligatory postposing, so I think it's best treated as optional.
    – BillJ
    Oct 31, 2020 at 17:14

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