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In the phrase "negative comments are exaggeratedly spreading", is the adverb in the correct place?

Would "negative comments are spreading exaggeratedly" be incorrect?

Both examples sound a bit unnatural to me, is it due to the position or is it because the adverb is not suitable in this example?

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    Do you mean that someone is exaggerating the extent to which the comments are spreading? Apr 25, 2022 at 16:47
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    Otherwise, "Exaggerated negative comments are spreading." Apr 25, 2022 at 16:59
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    I think that the adverb itself is just not suitable here. What does it even mean for something to "spread, in an exaggerated way"?
    – stangdon
    Apr 25, 2022 at 17:23
  • @Lambie - the archaic spelling of pretensions? Apr 25, 2022 at 21:45
  • @MichaelHarvey No, just a typo due to my French. And they are false friends, too.
    – Lambie
    Apr 25, 2022 at 23:06

1 Answer 1

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In some sentences in English, some adverbs can go either before or after some verbs and the meaning is the same:

"The flu is rapidly spreading on campus" and "The flu is spreading rapidly on campus" have exactly the same meaning, and neither would sound wrong to a native speaker (in my opinion).

The phrase "exaggeratedly spreading" (and the reverse) sounds strange to me because exaggeration is something people -- not phenomenon such as online comments -- do, even if the comments are made by people. A person can exaggerate his influence, but his actual influence would not "grow exaggeratedly."

There are phrases and idiomatic expressions that always use a specific word order. And, placement of adverbs cannot be changed if the adverb modifies an entire sentence, or is a particular word. Here is an excellent table showing various examples of adverb placement:

https://staff.washington.edu/marynell/grammar/AdverbPl.html

Just one example: "slowly" should come before the verb "finishing" in this sentence:

"She is slowly finishing her degree."

It is not standard, and sounds wrong to a native speaker, to reverse the word order: "She is finishing slowly her degree."

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  • This is a great answer and I agree with almost all the points made in it. One caveat, though: in your example "She is slowly finishing her degree," I agree that this adverb placement is clearly permissible, and also clearly preferable to *"She is finishing slowly her degree." But that's not because the adverb has to be placed before the verb. It could be placed after the verb; it's just that the natural placement in English would then also have to follow the direct object: "She is finishing her degree slowly" is just as good as "She is slowly finishing her degree." Apr 26, 2022 at 16:22
  • Absolutely. I meant only that if we you want to just switch the adverb and verb, "slowly" needs to go before "finishing" when what follows is "her degree." Your example of the adverb at the end is of course correct and common.
    – user8356
    Apr 26, 2022 at 16:51

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