2

On his way home, he found in front of him a big pile of hay.

In this sentence , On his way home = adjectival phrase modifying the whole sentence

he = complete subject

found = the verb

a big pile of hay = noun phrase ,the object

in front of him = prepositional phrase, the objective complement.

Is this sentence correct?

Is it ok to put the objective complement before the object?

3

On his way home, he found in front of him a big pile of hay.

In typical conversational (AmE) speech, that sentence could easily have been:

He found a big pile of hay in front of him on his way home.

Putting "on his way home" at the head of the sentence puts the rest of the sentence in the context of that trip. That's a rhetorical strategy. There are also situations, especially in writing, when we would want to move a phrase like "in front of him" so that it's adjacent to the verb, either to keep the verb phrase together, or the object phrase together, or to delay the object phrase for rhetorical effect:

Delay for effect:

On his way home, he found in front of him, just sitting there in the middle of the road, steam still rising from it, a big pile of hay mixed with elephant dung. A circus had been to town..

"To find in front of {oneself, himself, etc}" is more or less a collocation that means "to encounter an obstacle", and so that is another reason to keep the phrase together.

But let's say we wanted to modify the object phrase:

Misplaced modifier:

On his way home, he found a large pile of hay in front of him with a hay fork sticking in it.

On his way home, he found a large pile of hay with a hay fork sticking in it in front of him.

It would be better in that case to relocate "in front of him" so that the verb phrase and the object phrase each remain together:

On his way home, {he found in front of him} {a large pile of hay with a hay fork sticking in it}.

Even though in speech one encounters, fairly frequently, the sorts of interruptions shown above in the hay fork examples of misplacement, the grammar allows the phrases to be moved around. The examples of misplacement are not grammatical errors (native speakers do talk this way and the grammatical rules allow it). But keeping the verb-phrase and the object phrase together can result in greater clarity and felicity.

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IMHO, I would say that the best way to parse this sentence would be:

On his way home, he found a big pile of hay in front of him.

You could also probably get away with saying:

On his way home, in front of him, he found a big pile of hay.

I guess the latter would be correct, but it is only because we are putting the details about where the hay is before the verb. The phrase in front of him is a piece of additional information, and must go before the verb (in this case)

The phrase in front of him is only a helper phrase to add more information, but the main phrase, he found a big pile of hay must go at the end of the sentence if you want to phrase it like this.

(Technically, the phrase On his way home, he found in front of him a big pile of hay will be correct, but it is not usually how we would parse it in everyday speech)

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