Can I change the words' order in a sentence where I use "assign to"? For example:

"I assign a number to each person."

"To each person, I assign a number."

So is the second sentence correct? and if so, should I use a comma, or should it go without it? I know that if we have dependent and independent clauses, and we change the order we should put a comma, but this is not that case.

  • 3
    I am not versed enough to offer you a justification, but as a native speaker, I can tell you that, yes, the second version is valid and appropriate, and best presented with the comma.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 19, 2016 at 21:02

2 Answers 2

  1. "I assign a number to each person."
  2. "To each person, I assign a number."

Both are correct. The second one can include the comma but it is not strictly necessary. It is well understood in speech too.

There is a subtle difference in what is emphasized in each sentence. Generally, the emphasis is understood to be on the end of the sentence. You can consider the last words as having implicit stress: "I assign a number to each person" emphasizes the persons (you are likely to continue talking about them, and the numbers are of secondary importance), but "To each person, I assign a number" suggests that either the number each person has, or the action of numbering, is the important fact here.

See also Pullum's "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice" which quotes Elements of Style saying Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end. (This advice is not stupid!)


Yes, it is correct. The comma is not necessary but it does make the sentence a lot easier to parse.

BTW, it is also apparently Yodaspeak, an alternative word sequence used by the character Yoda in Star Wars. You can convert any sentence to Yodaspeak using this link

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