Bring the man who embarrassed your cousin last night in the party of College of Forestry to his knees.

Is it acceptable for the long noun phrase to switch places with the PP to knees?

Bring to knees the man who embarrassed your cousin last night in the party of College of Forestry.

  • 1
    Did you mean to write "Bring to his knees" in the second example?
    – user230
    Jul 31, 2013 at 0:31
  • the man who embarrassed your cousin yesterday is just a long noun phrase. It's a clumsy construction here, but grammatically it's perfectly ordinary (as it would be if replaced by, say, him). OP's second construction is totally ungrammatical (neither Bring to knees him nor Bring to his knees him are even remotely English) Jul 31, 2013 at 2:12
  • 2
    I finally have a name for what I'm trying to do here: Heavy NP Shift construction (languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4398). I only want to know if this is possible with my own example sentence.
    – Sherlock
    Jul 31, 2013 at 7:24
  • 2
    Yes, it's grammatical, but – egads! – is that ever an ugly sentence. How about: That man who embarrassed your cousin last night? At the party held at the College of Forestry? We should bring him to his knees! Sure that's got two fragments disguised as rhetorical questions, but I still think it reads better. To the O.P.: I don't know why you're trying to shift it around; your original sentence sounds better.
    – J.R.
    Jul 31, 2013 at 15:21
  • 1
    @StoneyB: Well, we'd probably at least agree that it's not a huge improvement either way.
    – J.R.
    Jul 31, 2013 at 17:31

2 Answers 2


If you replace the "his":

Bring to his knees the man who embarrassed your cousin…

Then yes, it's grammatically correct, but almost never seen that way. It's generally used to end a clause or sentence forcefully.

You might say that such a powerful phrase… could bring a sentence to its knees.


As meetar says, it's unusual. If cast that way, it's more the command form. You might find it in say a play about Old England, where the King demands:

"Bring to his knees the man ... ! "

and it would end in an exclamation point.

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