1
  1. You have done well and you will be promoted soon.

or

  1. You have done well and you will soon be promoted.

Please explain why? What's the difference in their meaning?


EDIT: I asked one of my friends and he gave me a vague theory that adverbs of time should come before the verb if they occur before it. In this example, the time "soon" should come before "be promoted" because the time which is appropriate for his promotion would come before his manager signs his promotion.

If anyone has ever heard of such a rule then kindly enlighten me.

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    I'll put a lil' comma before 'and'! – Maulik V May 16 '15 at 8:16
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    semantically no difference. Placement of words depends on the writer's style. – Maulik V May 16 '15 at 8:17
  • I have never heard of such a rule. Of course, just because I haven't heard of something doesn't mean that the rule is invalid, but it made me wonder: "I went to Berlin, recently.", "I recently went to Berlin" and "Recently, I went to Berlin" (examples from LEG) - does recently occur before or after I have been to Berlin? I can't apply your friend's rule here and the rule does sound very odd. I stand by the statement that 'soon' can take all three positions: front, mid and end and that the difference is in what you want to emphasise. – Lucky May 17 '15 at 13:20
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    @Lucky I haven't heard of such a rule either. It does appear to be false (though it's not really stated clearly enough for me to try to demonstrate that it's false). – snailcar May 17 '15 at 14:08
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Soon is an adverb of indefinite time. Although it signifies time, it doesn't signify exact time. These adverbs can have three positions in a sentence:

  • At the end of the sentence: You will be promoted soon.

  • Before the verb (but between the auxiliary and the main verb): You will soon be promoted.

  • At the beginning of the sentence: Soon, you will be promoted. (This puts emphasis on 'soon'.)

All three are grammatical and the difference in meaning is more of a nuance: it is a matter of emphasis. I would say that perhaps 'soon' in the mid position puts emphasis on the verb, while front and end positions put emphasis on 'soon' (front position more so than end). An interesting article by June Casagrande discusses the positioning of the adverb 'soon'.


According to LEG, most adverbs can take front or end position, but not all can take mid position, like 'soon' in the 2nd sentence. For example, adverbs of definite time, such as tomorrow

  • He will be promoted tomorrow. (1)
  • Tomorrow, he will be promoted. (2)

Not: He will tomorrow be promoted. (3)

EDIT (inspired by comments): Although a pause in speech can make temporal expressions in mid position sound natural, this construction is not as common as the other two. (Since we are not interested in the exact phrase, but rather varying the position of a word/phrase it is difficult to offer proof - at least with my, somewhat limited, corpora searching skills. What I'm saying is: if you want to be on the safe side, don't correct people who use the third option, but when in doubt stick to the first two examples in your own sentences).

Please have in mind that the references I have cited are mostly intended for learners of English as a foreign language (as L.G. Alexander, the author of Longman English Grammar specifically states in the introduction). Therefore, some of the grammar concepts there are simplified and/or abridged. Also, there is a debate about whether dictionaries always categorise words accurately and there is a great reference about it provided in the comments below. The fact that some grammar references and dictionaries state that 'tomorrow' is an adverb doesn't mean that this is a rule etched in stone. This brings the discussion very far from your question, but if you would like more information, please see the comments below and this post on ELU.


Ref: LEG, CDO, edufind

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    +1. Aside: Perhaps you've just provided evidence for "tomorrow" to not be an adverb. In your examples, the word "tomorrow" seems to have a distribution similar to "next week". Consider: "He will be promoted [tomorrow / next week]", and "[Tomorrow / Next week], he will be promoted" ( and then there's "He will [tomorrow / next week] be promoted"). There's some related info in CGEL, page 564-5, [6]. (Although dictionaries might categorize "tomorrow" as an adverb, er, you really can't rely on them.) – F.E. May 16 '15 at 9:57
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    But all I need to do to make this odd-sounding sentence "He will tomorrow be promoted to Senior VP" sound not so odd at all, is to surround "tomorrow" with a bit of a pause: He will, tomorrow, be promoted to Senior VP. I think the problem stems from the interruption of "will be". Compare: He was yesterday promoted to Senior VP. He was a year ago promoted to Senior VP. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 16 '15 at 14:13
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    Everything set forth in CGEL, or in any grammar, is a hypothesis. It may or may not be correct. Everyone should feel free to discuss whether it's correct, not because everyone can naturally do a better job than Huddleston & Pullum, but because discussing the reasoning and arguments involved is how people will come to understand them. (And if you're going to reject an idea, you first need to understand it.) We should also feel free to discuss whether dictionaries categorize things properly, as Pullum does here. – snailcar May 16 '15 at 16:22
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    @snailboat Thanks, that's a very interesting paper. It took me a while to go through it, but it was well worth it. I have been using semantics as a crouch to categorize words into classes, so I reading this brought an image of myself using a screwdriver to butter a toast :-). I understood pazzo's comment as a remark about their opinion on the relativity of grammar in general, which was stylistically similar to Pullum's abstract; not as an outright rejection of the discussion about the category of 'tomorrow'... Of course comments are open to interpretation, far more than grammar :-) – Lucky May 16 '15 at 23:26
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    Traditional grammar's "adverb" class is mostly a catch-all container: it ends up getting whatever stuff that doesn't fit cleanly in the other categories (e.g. noun, adjective, prep, etc.). But even then, most adverbs tend to have some common properties and distributions. Though, words like "tomorrow" don't even have much of those traditional grammar's adverb-like properties. Rather, its properties are more like those of a noun (more like a pronoun which is a subcategory of noun)--w.r.t. a modern grammar like H&P's CGEL. And many words don't cleanly fit in any one category. – F.E. May 17 '15 at 2:18

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