2

I have a sentence:

Which tasks should I perform?

How do I add exactly to this question?

  1. Which exactly tasks should I perform?

  2. Which tasks should I perform exactly?

Neither of the above sentences seems right to me. Is exactly the right word? How to ask the question to find out what exactly I'm supposed to do?

It's really hard to find any information about the usage of exactly, so I hope I you can help me out.

4

Exactly is an adverb, so you can not use it to modify a noun (tasks). That means your first sentence is not grammatical.

You have two options:

  1. Exactly which tasks should I perform?
  2. Which tasks should I perform exactly?

As @StoneyB points out, the second option can be ambiguous.

In the first sentence, exactly clearly modifies which, but in the second one, it seems to modify perform. If it modifies perform, you're asking which tasks should be performed with great(er) accuracy. The second sentence can, however, also be read as if exactly modifies which, just like in the first one. In that case, the adverb just moved to the end of the sentence, more or less as an afterthought. One might add a comma in that case:

Which tasks should I perform, exactly?

In most cases, I think the second sentence would be interpreted as meaning the same as the first.

1

Be careful because the placement of "exactly" can make a huge difference.

Exactly which tasks should I perform?

You are asking for the specific individual tasks, out of many more possibilities, that you should perform.

Which tasks should I perform, exactly?

Same as above, but the common and inflection during speech are very, very important because...

Which tasks should I perform exactly?

You are asking which of the already defined tasks should you perform exactly as instructed/defined as opposed to "close enough".

  • Honestly all three of your examples are semantically equivalent. – Giambattista Jul 21 '16 at 23:59

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