Slip-ups: Order of adverbs

BY: By Joe Boye

Today we are looking at slip-ups that occur in notices, invitations and announcements concerning events such as meetings, funerals, church services, weddings, lectures, football matches, etc.

A typical announcement of or invitation to such an event will have the following lines:

The event takes place at 10 a.m. at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Information on Monday, June 13, 2022 in Accra.

To many people, this announcement is normal and correct, mainly because this is the type of announcement they are used to and which they see, read and hear on a daily basis.

But there is everything incorrect with the announcement in terms of the arrangement of the adverbs in it.

That incorrect arrangement of adverbs makes the announcement boring to read and listen to. First, we must know that in English there is a principle to follow when we have to arrange different adverbs after the verb they qualify.

I hope you know that adverbs are the words that tell us about verbs --- they tell us about HOW, an action takes place (Adverbs of Manner), WHERE an action takes place (Adverbs of Place) and WHEN an action takes place (Adverbs of Time).

And when we have to use all three types of adverbs to qualify a verb, they must be arranged (in order of closeness to the verb) --- MANNER, PLACE and TIME (MPT).

Eg: He arrived SAFELY (manner) HERE (place) YESTERDAY (time). Any other arrangement of the adverbs SAFELY, HERE and YESTERDAY is grammatically incorrect.

Now, in our announcement of the meeting as we have it, there are two types of adverbs --- adverbs of place and adverbs of time.

As they appear in the announcement, the two adverbs of place are even separated from each other,just as the two adverbs of time.

The adverbs of place are CONFERENCE HALL IN THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION and ACCRA, while the two adverbs of time are 10 A.M. and JUNE 13, 2022.

Going by the principle stated above, we should have the adverbs of place coming closer to the verb TAKES PLACE (since there is no adverb of manner), to be followed by the adverbs of time. So the announcement should be correctly presented as:

The event takes place AT THE CONFERENCE HALL OF THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION IN ACCRA AT 10 A.M. ON MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2O22. Note that since the adverb of time 10 A.M. is more exact than MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2022, we shouldn’t render that part as: ....ON MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2022 AT 10 A.M.

The same way we shouldn’t write or say: AT THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION IN THE CONFERENCE HALL since the CONFERENCE HALL is more exact than the MINISTRY OF INFORMATION.

(To be continued.)