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When I use adverbs of time, and if the sentence gets long when I want to place it after the whole sentence like this:

I sent a person to get myself a nice, delicious table of dinner today.

Or

Janice and her friends went to the mall to flirt with the cute guys who congregate at the food court yesterday.

Do "today" and "yesterday" modify only the infinitive phrases? Or do they modify the whole sentence? And can someone please tell me how it is grammatically correct to put those adverbs of time? Those sentences sound a little off to my ear while I am unable to explain why. It seems to me that I have to put those adverbial of times in front of the infinitive phrase like this:

I sent a person today to get myself a nice, delicious table of dinner.

Janice and her friends went to the mall yesterday to flirt with the cute guys who congregate at the food court.

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    The placement of adverbs in a sentence is often extremely flexible. "Today I sent..." "I sent a person today..." or your version all work and are perfectly natural to a native speaker. The first sentence has a broken pronoun. It would be "... to get me...". You would only say myself there if you had gotten your own meal. I'm sure someone will explain the grammar of it, but it is a correct usage, both grammatically and idiomatically. Sep 3, 2015 at 2:22
  • The second one too? Is it correct? Sep 3, 2015 at 2:23
  • In the Janice sentence, the first version is a little clunky because of the distance between Janice's action and the adverb describing the time of that action, but it is still correct. All four sentences are correct as far as their adverbs are concerned. I would probably use either your second versions or simply start the sentences with Today and Yesterday, but the first two sentences are not wrong. Sep 3, 2015 at 2:26
  • Can you please explain why it is not wrong? It seems to me as if the today and yesterday are modifying only the infinitive phrases, not the whole sentence, therefore making it sound unnatural to me... Even though I now know it is grammatically correct to use those sentence..... Sep 3, 2015 at 2:29
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    It's not related to your question, but a nice delicious table of dinner is glaringly unidiomatic.
    – user8399
    Sep 3, 2015 at 22:30

1 Answer 1

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Yesterday here modifies the main clause (or the verb in the main clause, went), so it can be put it any of these places:

V Janice and her friends v went v to the mall V to flirt with the cute guys who congregate at the food court V.

With yesterday the positions to either side of went, marked with a lowercase v, are considerably less likely than the other three, but some other temporal locatives fit more comfortably in those two positions:

Janice and her friends recently went to the mall ...
Janice and her friends went shortly after to the mall ...

WITH RESPECT TO THE EXAMPLE SENTENCE YOU ADDED: (Some corrections: 1) We would ordinarily say someone or somebody rather than a person here. 2) You want me rather than myself - myself is used only as the object of actions performed by I, and get is performed by the person who was sent. 3) A table is a piece of furniture and cannot be delicious, and table of dinner is not an English idiom. I suspect this is an idiom in your language meaning like a meal, so that's what I'll use below.)

Again, today modifies the main clause, headed by sent. Here are the positions where today may be put—again, the acceptable but unlikely positions are marked with a lowercase v:

V I v sent somebody v to get me a nice meal V

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  • Is the verb in the main clause "went"? Sep 3, 2015 at 2:33
  • @helpmeplease Yes ... I will put that into the answer Sep 3, 2015 at 2:35
  • Also, as I am not so great with grammar (I only know few terms, and that's it), is the main clause "Janice and her friends went to the mall", or does main clause also include "to flirt...court"? Again, I am sorry for my lack of understanding, but I do not quite get what you meant by "With yesterday the positions to either side of went are considerably less likely than the other three". Sep 3, 2015 at 2:38
  • Do you mean that it is not recommended put yesterday before or after the "went"? Also, what are those other three? Sep 3, 2015 at 2:41
  • @helpmeplease 1) Yes. to flirt with the cute guys is subordinate to the main clause, naming the purpose, and who congregate &c is subordinate to the flirt clause, telling which cute guys you're talking about. 2) It is less likely that yesterday will be put in one of the two positions marked with lowercase 'v' and more likely that yesterday will be put in one of the three positions marked with uppercase 'V'. Sep 3, 2015 at 2:43

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