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I was walking with a friend and we saw a sign that said

Do not park here your motorbike. Thank you.

To me, it looks incorrect, and I think the correct sentence should be

Do not park your motorbike here. Thank you.

My friend insisted that the order of the words could be changed, though, and that the first sentence is correct.

Are both sentences correct?

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    The correct way of saying it would be "Do not park your motorbike here". It was probably an error on the sign maker's part. – James Wirth Jun 5 '16 at 13:14
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    The rule is not absolute but depends on a number of factors. Do not park in those spaces marked with a red (X) any vehicle longer than 15', wider than 7', or taller than 6'. or Do not park here on the grass any vehicle leaking oil. But "Do not park your motorbike here." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 5 '16 at 13:15
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    @TRomano - Those longer examples sound odd to me. I'd expect to see those phrased something like Vehicles longer than 15`, wider than 7', or taller than 6' must not be parked in spaces marked with an X. Or The following vehicles not permitted in spaces marked with an X: [list]. – nnnnnn Jun 5 '16 at 13:46
  • @nnnnnn: Such sentences abound in formal texts; you're unlikely to hear people speaking this way in informal conversation.. The reordering is to package the info for emphasis and clarity. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 5 '16 at 15:47
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In this sentence, here is an adverb of place that applies to the verb park.

According to this guide, it is normal to put adverbs of place at the end of a clause. They sometimes go at the start of the clause.

Do not park your motorbike here. Thank you. - this follows the guide

Do not park here your motorbike. Thank you. - this does not

As per the pirates code, it's more a guideline than a rule.

For example, it is possible to put information other than the direct object after the adverb:

We will be there at that table - this is OK

Do not park here your motorbike - this is not OK

  • The guide you linked doesn't say "never in the middle". Do you mean "We will be there at that table." is wrong? – user24743 Jun 5 '16 at 13:35
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    It's an oversimplified guide, but the fact remains that do not park here your motorbike is not idiomatic in any sense. – Alan Carmack Jun 5 '16 at 14:22
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    @Ranthony, did I use the word "wrong"? I think not. To quote the Dalai Lama, "Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively." – JavaLatte Jun 5 '16 at 14:39
  • @JavaLatte You are the one who wrote "but never in the middle". You need to explain why. – user24743 Jun 5 '16 at 14:44
  • I'm sorry, but this is totally wrong. It is absolutely normal for an adverb to appear in the middle of a clause with fundamental/non-comma-separable information afterward; consider e.g. "he hardly ate", "she spoke rudely to the waiter", "I came here to talk". The problem with the OP's example is simply that it puts the adverb between a verb and its direct object. – ruakh Jun 5 '16 at 23:39
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?? Do not park here your motorbike.

Frankly, it sounds like something a learner would write. But it is simply not idiomatic.

This is because adverbs modifying verbs do not appear between the verb and its object. See page 257 of, A teacher's grammar of English.

The version of the sentence with here after motorbike is correct and idiomatic and natural.

  • Your link is an old (maybe too basic) rule. There could be many sentences where an adverb is placed between a verb and its direct object, especially when the object is long. Like "split to-infinitive rule", it doesn't work in contemporary English. If you can't find any example, let me know. I will find you a lot. – user24743 Jun 5 '16 at 15:39
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    It is not an old rule. The book was published in 2008 by Cambridge University Press. The rule may not be comprehensive (introductory grammars rarely are), but it certainly "works in contemporary English", and it suffices for a question of this type here on ELL. – Alan Carmack Jun 5 '16 at 16:03
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    @Rathony: This is completely different from the "split infinitive" rule. The split-infinitive rule is a made-up prescriptivist rule that has never had any basis in English usage. (It was invented at a time when Latin was considered the model for good grammar; in Latin, to-infinitives are single words, and are never split.) The "no adverbs between verbs and their direct objects" is a descriptivist rule that accurately describes the usage of all native speakers. This doesn't mean it's correct 100.0% of the time -- exceptions do exist -- but it's pretty close. – ruakh Jun 5 '16 at 23:33
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I don't think it is a matter of whether the first sentence is correct or incorrect. Rather, it is a matter of which sentence is more idiomatic and your second example is far more idiomatic.

Positioning of adverbs in English is very tricky. Some are very flexible and some aren't without hard-and-fast rule.

Usually, adverbs are placed before a main verb and after an auxiliary or modal verb. However, this rule doesn't apply to every sentence. It will mainly depend on which word you want to emphasize or stress and whether their position will change the meaning of a sentence or not. For example, if you contrast

I will be waiting here. vs I will be here waiting.

Basically two sentences have the same meaning, however, the adverb here is positioned differently. The former places emphasis on "waiting" and the latter on "here". Usually, "waiting" in the former is stressed while "here" in the latter is.

As @JavaLatte explained, an adverb of place is usually, most of the time placed at the end or beginning of a sentence. However, it is not always the case as the second example sentence above shows.

Your second example will be far more broadly used than the first example. However, I don't see any reason why you can't use the first example if you want to emphasize "here".

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    Because no native speaker writing normal, everyday, idiomatic English would write Do not park here your motorbike –in order to stress here or for any other reason. It's not that it's far less idiomatic, it's not at all idiomatic. – Alan Carmack Jun 5 '16 at 14:17
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but your example and mine are completely different, because in my example, here kind of "intrudes" between the verb and its direct object, while in yours it does not. – Nuria Jun 5 '16 at 14:42
  • @Nuria My example sentences are there to illustrate you can position "here" freely. Of course it is different from your example sentence and your first example is not idiomatic. – user24743 Jun 5 '16 at 14:48
  • That's exactly right @Nuria. An adverb of place doesn't come in between the verb and its direct object. – Alan Carmack Jun 5 '16 at 15:03
  • So the first sentence is not idiomatic–which is exactly what I said. Contrary to your answer, which still implies that it is merely far less idiomatic and far less broadly used, and still says it's okay to put here after park, when in fact it's not. – Alan Carmack Jun 5 '16 at 15:16

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