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Capstone Multilingual Writing Tips: Blog

May 2019: Improving Scholarly Voice: Adverb Placement

by Paul Lai on 2019-05-01T00:00:00-05:00 | 0 Comments


Last month’s tip of the month was a way to improve scholarly voice with verb choice. This month, let us look at another tip to improve scholarly voice: consider adverb placement in sentences.

Remember that APA calls for clear, concise, and objective language, thus eliminating the need for many adverbs and adjectives. There are times, however, when adverbs or adverbial phrases are used for clarity or for transitional purposes. Adverbs in English can often fit into different slots in the sentence: at the beginning of the sentence; after the subject of the sentence, before the verb; and at the end of the sentence. Depending on the type of adverb, all three choices may be correct. For example,

  • Recently, I started a new job.
  • I recently started a new job.
  • I started a new job recently.

In academic writing, adverbs are often placed in midposition rather than at the beginning or the end of sentences (Swales & Feak, 2012). Consider the difference in the level of formality in the following examples:

  • Originally, the model was developed by Smith (2003).
  • The model was originally developed by Smith (2003).


  • Then, the model was adapted by Jones (2010).
  • The model was then adapted by Jones (2010).


  • Also, I analyzed company documents.
  • I also analyzed company documents.


  • I followed the procedures outlined in the Belmont Report carefully.
  • I carefully followed the procedures outlined in the Belmont Report.


Revision Tip: Look back through your most recent draft of your capstone document and consider adverb placement within the sentences. Consider revising to place adverbs midposition rather than at the beginning or the end of the sentence.

Reference: Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (2012). Academic writing for graduate students: Essential tasks and skills (3rd ed.). University of Michigan Press.

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