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In the following, is the portion between the commas "...for any of a number of reasons..." -- an adverbial phrase, or appositive phrase, or what? And what rules or guidelines, strict or otherwise, are available to help determine its best placement.

  1. The work was something that John already had the expertise to do himself but for which, for any of a number of reasons, he did not have sufficient time or energy.

So I'd tend to write it as above, but I reckon I could be equally happy with any of the following (numbered for ease of referencing in answers):

  1. The work was something that John already had the expertise to do himself but for which he, for any of a number of reasons, did not have sufficient time or energy.
  1. The work was something that John already had the expertise to do himself but for which he did not, for any of a number of reasons, have sufficient time or energy.
  1. The work was something that John already had the expertise to do himself but for which he did not have, for any of a number of reasons, sufficient time or energy.

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The verb phrase "did not have" is modified by the adverbial phrase "for any of a number of reasons".

Rules for placement are extremely liberal (and possibly unwritten/subjective). All of your examples are correct.

Generally, to avoid ambiguity, adverbial phrases should be close to the verb they are modifying and should not disrupt other phrases. Generally. But they are also often placed at the beginning or end of sentences as well, e.g.:

  • For any of a number of reasons, the work was something that John already had the expertise to do himself but for which he did not have sufficient time or energy.

  • The work was something that John already had the expertise to do himself but for which he did not have sufficient time or energy, for any of a number of reasons.

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    Thanks. Your examples, in expanding to SIX the number of placements that work, highlight the fact that there are a few positions that do not work (semantically, even though syntactically they're fine). Just after "time" or before "energy" are two. And just after "John" is a third. All of those seem to me to introduce some ambiguity. Does the multiplicity of possible explanations apply to John's insufficiency of only one, but not both, of time and energy? Is it only John who so suffers; i.e. are there other people who have not only John's expertise, but also the all-important time and energy?
    – tkp
    Oct 3, 2023 at 21:23

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