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Am getting confused on how to order the phrases in this sentence.

This is the third debate on the topic for the day

or

This is the third debate for the day on the topic

Edit: To quote another example, I have been having trouble deciding which of the following is correct

Comments by XYZ underneath/in the comment section below

or

Comments underneath/in the comment section below by XYZ

Also, generally speaking, how can improve my sense of phrase ordering? This is something I've been at pains to understand. No matter how much I try, I can't seem to get this right.

Thanks.

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  • by 'for the day', do you mean today? i.e there has been 3 debates on this topic today?
    – Steve Ives
    Jun 22, 2015 at 13:46
  • Technically, yes. But I meant it more as in 'Thats enough for the day"
    – axomna
    Jun 22, 2015 at 14:00
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    In practice it might be better to say This is the third time today this issue has been discussed, since that format would quite naturally emphasize third - with the implication that the speaker considers three separate discussions to be a relatively unusual/excessive amount of attention to devote to the matter. Alternatively, assuming the speaker wants to cut any third discussion short (or prevent it from even starting), it would probably be more natural to say This topic has been discussed twice today already (and thus doesn't need to be discussed yet again). Jun 22, 2015 at 14:42
  • Thanks. That was very helpful and nicely explained. How about the second sentence?
    – axomna
    Jun 22, 2015 at 14:56
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    The original sentence contained no judgment on the matter, so I don't see why you need to put one in. But your rewording doesn't seem to be any clearer than the original one, so I don't see why it's necessary in general.
    – user124384
    Jun 22, 2015 at 18:48

1 Answer 1

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The first sentence:

The first version is the correct one. The second one is not because "on the topic," sounds tacked on, as if the speaker forgot to clarify until after they had already said "for the day."

To improve the order of your phrases, just keep modifiers next to the thing they modify. "On the topic" modifies "debates," so keep them together. "For the day" modifies "debates on the topic," not just debates, so don't wedge it into that phrase.

The second sentence:

This is a shortened, abbreviated version of a complete sentence, and there are no real hard and fast ways to write such things. Choosing between the two versions you have actually depends on what you're trying to say.

The first version sounds like you're saying: "If you would like to see comments by XYZ, look at the section below."

The second version sounds like you're saying: "There are comments below, which by the way were written by XYZ."

This is because when you say "Comments by XYZ are below," your sentence's subject is "Comments by XYZ." What you're talking about is XYZ's comments. But when you say "The below comments are by XYZ," your subject is the below comments, and you're adding information about their author.

That said, the first version sounds more clear to me, and the second version is kind of confusing (again, as if "by XYZ" was just tacked on).

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