A: I know what you're going through.

B: You do?

A: Yes. ______________________________. So if you ever want to talk, you can always come to me.

Would all the suggestions below be grammatical and natural to insert in the dialog?

  1. Two years ago my ex-wife and I separated.

  2. My ex-wife and I separated two years ago.

  3. My ex-wife and I got separated two years ago.

  • 1
    The first two have the same meanings. The third is grammatically correct but means something different. "to separate" is different from "to be separated", is different from "to get separated". Is this homework? Please tell us where you found this text (and give a link if possible). The more context you give, the easier it is for us to answer accurately. Nov 27, 2020 at 13:59
  • 2
    I think it would be more natural to say my wife and I, since she only became an ex-wife after the separation. Other than that, (1) and (2) are both fine. Got separated sounds as though someone else made you separate, or you lost one another on a journey. Nov 27, 2020 at 14:01
  • What @Kate said. Explicitly referring to ex-wife here is a far less common choice, so it would automatically force your audience to attribute some reason for the choice. But there's no idiomatically established "standard" reason for choosing ex-wife. Note that in other contexts a very likely implication could be She's an extremely "ex-" wife (we parted a long time ago; we're completely separate and have no further contact; I no longer think about her;...). But I doubt that would apply to your example context. Nov 27, 2020 at 14:28
  • 2
    A wife becomes an ex-wife after divorce, not after separation. I can see that someone describing the past might say "ex-wife" without necessarily implying that she was already an ex-wife at the time of the event being described.
    – rjpond
    Nov 27, 2020 at 17:56
  • Careful: We got separated while walking around the fairgrounds. i.e. became separated. But not used in the sense of a couple separating.
    – Lambie
    Dec 23, 2022 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


Two years ago my ex-wife and I separated.

My ex-wife and I separated two years ago.

These two sentences essentially mean the same thing. The adverbs of time are flexible. They can be either placed at the beginning of the sentence or at the end of the sentences.

Note: As said by Kate Bunting, you should just use 'wife' instead of 'ex-wife', unless you are intending to say that she was your wife at some point in the past, you had separated and then again came together, and now again separated, which is highly unusual to say.

My ex-wife and I got separated two years ago.

This would mean some external factor or influence caused your separation from your wife. This is different from the above two sentences. You can even rephrase this sentence in a similar manner as the previous pair.

Two years ago my wife and I got separated.

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