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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Question Word order, adverbials and participles

    Could you tell me which one is correct:
    1a) This indicates how well organised something/it was.
    1b) This indicates how well something/it was organised.
    I indicate pronoun and a noun (something/it) in case it makes a difference.

    I've been thinking of a simpler sentence to solve the problem given above:
    2a) How well organised was something/it?
    2b) How well was something/it organised?

    Google search suggests that 1a is commonly used while 1b is harder to check but probably not used. This agrees with my intuition but goes against what I thought would be right (and what google says - 2b) for 2.

    So, the question is: What's the rule? Does it differ for other verbs? Why does the participle stick to the adverbial phrase in one case, and to the predicate in the other (if my suggestions are right, of course)?

    Thanks in advance for help (references to grammar books are warmly welcome),
    Jeremi

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    #2

    Exclamation Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    Quote Originally Posted by Remolek View Post
    Could you tell me which one is correct:
    1a) This indicates how well organised something/it was.
    1b) This indicates how well something/it was organised.
    I indicate pronoun and a noun (something/it) in case it makes a difference.

    I've been thinking of a simpler sentence to solve the problem given above:
    2a) How well organised was something/it?
    2b) How well was something/it organised?

    Google search suggests that 1a is commonly used while 1b is harder to check but probably not used. This agrees with my intuition but goes against what I thought would be right (and what google says - 2b) for 2.

    So, the question is: What's the rule? Does it differ for other verbs? Why does the participle stick to the adverbial phrase in one case, and to the predicate in the other (if my suggestions are right, of course)?

    Thanks in advance for help (references to grammar books are warmly welcome),
    Jeremi
    I do not understand what is the problem here? The word “organized” is an adjective and “well” is adverb which qualifies it. Normally the adverb is placed before the adjective. So 1a) as an affirmative sentence is ok. You can use either (something/it) both pronouns. If you treat as an interrogative sentence, then “was” should be before something/it This indicates how well organized was something/it?

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    Quote Originally Posted by Remolek View Post
    Could you tell me which one is correct:
    1a) This indicates how well organised something/it was.
    1b) This indicates how well something/it was organised.
    I indicate pronoun and a noun (something/it) in case it makes a difference.

    You can use either either form in this case. Sometimes you can't use 1b. with this meaning eg:
    1c. This indicates how well organised John was.
    1d. This indicates how well John was organised. (Potentially different meaning)
    So, be careful of adjectives that could be hyphenated, or sound as though they belong together:
    1e.
    This indicates how well controlled John was.
    1f. This indicates how well John was controlled.
    (Different meaning)

    I've been thinking of a simpler sentence to solve the problem given above:
    2a) How well organised was something/it?
    2b) How well was something/it organised?
    Either is correct - but the same constraints apply.
    How well mannered is she? How well is she mannered.

    So, the question is: What's the rule? Does it differ for other verbs? Why does the participle stick to the adverbial phrase in one case, and to the predicate in the other (if my suggestions are right, of course)?
    If an adjective is a unit, like well-mannered, you don't split it. Not all adjectives like this are hyphenated, and besides hyphenation doesn't show up in speech.

    Sometimes different meanings will be created by different word orders.
    How well-cooked was the steak? - To what extent? rare, medium, well-done?
    How well was the steak cooked? - How well did the chef do her job?



  3. Newbie
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    #4

    Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    The word “organized” is an adjective and “well” is adverb which qualifies it. Normally the adverb is placed before the adjective. [...] You can use either (something/it) both pronouns.
    "organised" is a past participle, and adverbs (as the name suggests) modify verbs. I used "something" instead of a noun and "it" as a pronoun, because sometimes sentences with pronouns have more restricted word order, and I didn't know if I should rule it out here.

    @Raymott
    Thanks for that answer. I'm not exactly sure what the difference in meaning is (especially in the case of "organised"), could you rephrase it, please?
    I understand that in 1e "control" means John's self-control and in 1f an external control.
    The problem for me is that "well organised" is not a unit as "well done" or "well mannered" in the sense that it doesn't have any different, particular meaning, i.e. strictly speaking it's not an idiomatic expression, is it? And still it seems that it is more frequent to say 1a rather than 1b. Is there an explanation for it?

    Anyway, thanks a lot once again - it's good to know that both given sentences are correct.
    Last edited by Remolek; 30-Jul-2009 at 23:47.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    Quote Originally Posted by Remolek View Post
    Thanks for that answer. I'm not exactly sure what is the difference in meaning (especially in the case of "organised"), could you rephrase it, please?
    1c. This indicates how well organised John was. John organises his affairs well.
    1d. This indicates how well John was organised.
    Someone put John together well, or someone else organised him well.
    In 1c. 'organised' acts as a participial adjective describing John.
    In 1d. it's a past participle in the passive construction "to be organised (by someone)"


    I understand that in 1e "control" means John's self-control and in 1f an external control.
    Good. That was my point.

    The problem for me is that "well organised" is not a unit as "well done" or "well mannered" in the sense that it doesn't have any different, particular meaning, i.e. strictly speaking it's not an idiomatic expression, is it?
    It's a common collocation. The sentences are not necessarily different in meaning. But there would be a tendency to understand them differently and that creates an ambiguity.


    And still it seems that it is more frequent to say 1a rather than 1b. Is there an explanation for it?
    Well organised is a common collocation.

    Anyway, thanks a lot once again - it's good to know that both given sentences are correct.
    R.

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    #6

    Post Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    In 1c. 'organised' acts as a participial adjective describing John.
    In 1d. it's a past participle in the passive construction "to be organised (by someone)"
    Now, perhaps it's going to sound a bit theoretical but...

    Does it mean that every sentence of the type:
    - He is (well) organised.
    can be ambiguous?

    Past participle in a passive construction and a participial (predicative) adjective both have an identical morphology, so transformation into interrogative and looking at the word order is a check for what we are dealing with. You don't need any "well" here to change the meaning, do you? Or is one of those interrogatives not possible without an adverb?
    - How (well) is he organised?
    - How (well) organised is he?

    Saying that "well organised" (or other "well [past participles]") is a collocation seems to be a consequence of the need to disambiguate the meanings of a given verb in those constructions by means of word order. The adverb naturally has to stay close to one or the other, there is no other possibility. Can that be true?

    (Still, any references to textbooks would be really helpful.)
    Last edited by Remolek; 31-Jul-2009 at 10:00.

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    If you are strict about it, "He is well organized" could be ambiguous, but 99% of the time, people will assume you mean "He has good organizational skills."

    You can always create a context where the other meaning -- that someone else got him all organized -- fits, just as you can with "well dressed" (her stylist made sure she looked nice before she went out) or other verbs.

    However, since other people don't usually organize us, "How well is he organized?" sounds a bit odd.

    Let's take a different example:
    How nicely dressed is she?
    How is she nicely dressed?

    Can you create a context that makes each one work?

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    #8

    Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    I do not understand what is the problem here? The word “organized” is an adjective and “well” is adverb which qualifies it. Normally the adverb is placed before the adjective. So 1a) as an affirmative sentence is ok. You can use either (something/it) both pronouns. If you treat as an interrogative sentence, then “was” should be before something/it This indicates how well organized was something/it?
    Not quite so simple!
    'Organized' can certainly be used as an adjective but is, first and foremost, the past participle of the verb 'organize', making

    [1] This indicates how well it was organized.

    just as acceptable as

    [2] This indicates how well(-)organized it was.


    There is no significant semantic difference at all. The only difference lies in the grammatical relations between the words: in [1], adverb 'well' modifies passive VP 'it was organized', whereas in [2] it modifies the participial adjective 'organized'.

    *This indicates how well organized was something/it.

    , by the way, is not a possible sentence!

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Word order, adverbials and participles

    Quote Originally Posted by Remolek View Post
    Now, perhaps it's going to sound a bit theoretical but...

    Does it mean that every sentence of the type:
    - He is (well) organised.
    can be ambiguous?

    No, only those cases where the word could be understood sensibly in more than one way. It's a matter of pragmatics not grammar.

    You don't need any "well" here to change the meaning, do you?
    No

    Saying that "well organised" (or other "well [past participles]") is a collocation seems to be a consequence of the need to disambiguate the meanings of a given verb in those constructions by means of word order. The adverb naturally has to stay close to one or the other, there is no other possibility. Can that be true?
    It's possible that that's the origin of the collocation - but not necessary.
    R.

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