Misplacing the Word 'Effectively' -->

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Misplacing the Word 'Effectively'


In English, the position of a word in a sentence is significant. Where a word appears in a sentence depends on whether you are writing about time, a question, an adverb; it depends on whether you are writing a positive sentence, a negative sentence, or a subordinate clause.

Adverbs are problematic because they can appear before the subject of the sentence, between the subject and the verb, or after the verb. Their meaning will generally change according to position in the sentence. So it’s not uncommon to see adverbs misplaced in written English.

Such an adverb is effectively. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (preferred by APA and Walden), when placed between the subject and the verb, it means  in effect or  virtually <by withholding funds they effectively killed the project>. But when it is placed after the verb, it means in an effective manner <dealt with the problem effectively>. Follow this URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effectively

Putting an adverb in the wrong position in a sentence will likely confuse readers. For example, you would not want to write, “by withholding funds, they killed the project effectively,” if you meant to say only that the project was virtually killed (“by withholding funds, they effectively killed the project”).

To say how something was done, the adverb must be used after a verb. Use this infographic below as a handy reminder:

Using 'effectively' effectively infographic by the Walden Writing Center

Practice: Do a search (hint: use CTRL + F) in a piece of your writing for the word 'effectively'. Are you using it as you mean to? Share with us in the comments.


Tim McIndoo
, who has been a dissertation editor since 2007, has more than 30 years of editorial experience in the field of medicine, science and technology, fiction, and education. When it comes to APA style, he says, "I don't write the rules; I just help users follow them."

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  1. I seem to have avoided this error by using the adjective form instead of the adverb. Thanks for the tip