I remember I learned somewhere that if I don't know where to place "by category", I can just place it after the verb "show" to modify "show". So I guess 1 is correct? I think "by category" can also modify expenditure so 2 is also correct? Does 3 read like "by category" is modifying the school instead of the expenditure so is not good? Please tell me what "by category" can modify.

  1. The charts show by category yearly expenditure by a particular UK school in 1981, 1991 and 2001.
  1. The charts show yearly expenditure by category by a particular UK school in 1981, 1991 and 2001.
  1. The charts show yearly expenditure by a particular UK school by category in 1981, 1991 and 2001.
  • All are OK. I'd change it to "expenditures for a particular UK school" just not to have by there jar with by category. When there are multiple categories by means broken down into subtotals for each category; since there's only one school, by would have an agentive meaning with the school.
    – TimR
    Apr 5 at 13:44
  • @TimR, thanks for the comment. I don't understand this: "by would have an agentive meaning with the school." Cloud you explain it not using "agentive meaning"? Apr 5 at 13:53
  • How is this not editing? I'm sure you can ask the same question in your own language, right?
    – Lambie
    Apr 5 at 14:17
  • Did you look up "Agentive meaning" using your browser search engine? If you didn't, you will remain a newbie forever. ;-)
    – TimR
    Apr 5 at 14:51
  • @TimR, yes I did that before asking. It's really difficult to understand. Apr 5 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


The adverbial phrase 'by category' is, in all your examples, modifying the verb "show".

Aside from the fact that 'show' is the only verb in the entire sentence (and adverbs describe verbs), it describes the manner in which the data is being shown.

  • Thanks for the answer. Titles of charts don't have verbs. In these cases, what does "by category" modify? For example: yourimageshare.com/ib/kmLZJQb1Qn Apr 5 at 15:08
  • Sorry, I have another concern. Can an adverbial phrase modify a noun phrase? In my original sentences, doesn't "by a particular UK school" modify the noun "expenditure"? If it does, why can't "by category" modify the noun "expenditure"? Apr 5 at 15:33
  • @newbieforever Adjectives modify nouns. Adverbs modify verbs. There's a clue in the name. As for other parts of the language - not everything "modifies" something else. 'By' is a preposition - it introduces additional information about the subject, but it doesn't "modify" it. Same with the preposition "in". The whole sentence is talking about expenditure data. Where it came from, when it came from etc is additional information about that data.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 5 at 16:23

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