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I came across the following sentence:

  • Hand this in at the most convenient time for you.

I would like to know why the sentence could not be rewritten like this:

  • Hand this in the most convenient time for you.

I've been trying to figure this out for a while but I still haven't come to a conclusion. An explanation would be most welcome. Thanks.

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    Do you mean "Hand this in in the most convenient time"? If not your second sentence has either a different verb or no preposition, so is bad grammar.
    – gotube
    Oct 23, 2022 at 7:01
  • No. Grammarly indicates that the first sentence is correct. But not the second. It insists to add "at" between: "in .... the most" Oct 23, 2022 at 7:06

2 Answers 2

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Your second sentence is incorrect. I'm not sure how you intended it, but it parses in two ways, neither of which is correct:

Hand this [in the most convenient time for you].

If you parse it this way, you have replaced the phrasal verb "hand in" with the simple verb "hand". The verb "hand" is transitive, which means it always has a direct object, but in this parsing of the sentence, there's no direct object, so the grammar is bad.

[Hand this in] [the most convenient time for you].

With this parsing, you still have the correct phrasal verb "hand in", but now it's followed by a noun phrase rather than a prepositional phrase or adverbial to describe how or where to hand it in. A bare noun phrase cannot follow a clause so it's bad grammar.

If you start with this second parsing, and add the preposition "at" in the place where Grammarly suggests, "at the most convenient time for you" becomes a prepositional phrase that has good grammar and meaning.

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  • You explained what I needed and even went a little further. Thanks, Gotube. Oct 23, 2022 at 21:48
  • Gotube, In addition to your answer, could you give me some grammatical references about the second explanation? So I can consult on this particular subject? Books, links, and articles are most welcome. Oct 23, 2022 at 22:05
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    @Portugueseporto I'm not sure how to give you references on bad grammar. It's simply not part of English grammar to have a complete clause like "Hand this in" followed by a noun phrase with no preposition, conjunction or other indication of its role in the sentence.
    – gotube
    Oct 24, 2022 at 19:20
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"Hand in" is a phrasal verb. It means "to submit (an essay or similar for marking)"

Then the preposition "at" introduces the time phrase (eg "at 3 pm" or "at a convenient time")

You need a prepositional phrase to give time, and "at" is the right preposition. With other expressions you could even have:

Hand this in in three days"

It looks weird, (and might be avoided) but it is grammatically okay. The first "in" is part of the verb "hand in" and the second "in" heads the prepositional phrase.

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  • Thanks for the answer, James. Have a nice sunday :) Oct 23, 2022 at 21:49

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