a headline on NY Times:

A shopping street in Tokyo last month. The Japanese economy continues to struggle with deflation despite policies to coax prices higher.

is there any difference in gist if I alter the order of 'to coax prices higher' for 'to coax higher prices'?

I actually thought the: 'to coax higher prices' would be the correct way

1 Answer 1


In general, the word order obviously matters. Just compare

The dog bites the man.


The man bites the dog.

or to (to add a nonsensical example)

Dog man the bites the.

In your example, you use two different constructions of "to coax".

(...) policies to coax prices higher.

is a shorter variation of something like

(...) policies to coax prices to get higher.

On the other hand,

(...) policies to coax higher prices.

uses "higher" as an adjective of "prices". With this variation, my gut feeling would miss the source of the higher prices, so to speak. Something like

(...) policies to coax higher prices out of the customers.

So, the former version would feel more natural to me.

Your example shows that there can be similar constructions to express similar meanings. But it doesn't show that you can just flip around words arbitrarily ;) It's basically just luck that it works out in this case.

  • 2
    The structure is "To coax something to do something". To coax prices (to go) higher. That is clear. To coax higher prices (to do what). What are you trying to coax the higher prices to do?
    – Peter
    Jul 15, 2021 at 13:28

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