Adverbial position



In a sentence such as:
We were asked to create an on-line glossary with Internet terms.
what are the possible places to insert the adverb cooperatively?

Posted 12 August 2002
Cooperatively seems a strange adverb to go into this sentence.

The only comfortable place for cooperatively to fit into this sentence would be in the middle of a split infinitive: "to cooperatively create."

The object of create is too far away to put the adverb in the more usual position at the end of the sentence. You can't put it in after "create." In English the object is rarely separated from its verb. To put cooperatively at the beginning of the sentence doesn't make sense, and it does not modify the main verb in the sentence, "were asked."

Although some prescriptive grammarians ? I am not among them ? seriously dislike splitting infinitives, cooperatively does belong between the "to" and "create," because it modifies "create."



I share Rachel’s opinion that the adverb cooperatively is a bit strange. If the task is to be carried out by a group of people, I would expect the adverb collaboratively, or, better yet, the adverbial phrase in collaboration.

Here’s a further thought on possible placement of such an expression. These adverbials have more meaning content than manner adverbials such as soon or quickly, or time adverbials such as immediately. They therefore should have some "breathing space" of their own. I would suggest these possibilities, with commas setting off the adverbial:

We were asked to create, collaboratively, an online glossary with Internet terms.

We were asked to create, in collaboration, an online glossary with Internet terms.

Marilyn Martin