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Hi,

there's something I've been wondering for a while.
You can say:

I haven't tried to understand that theory yet.
I learned that poem by heart.

The objects are in bold. The adverbs are underlined. Can I put a clause (like a relative clause) in place of the object in such cases, even though I will separate the verb and the adverb even further? Example:

I haven't tried to understand what you wrote yet.
I haven't tried to understand what you wrote in your old notes yet.
I haven't tried to understand why Paris Hilton isn't popular yet.
I haven't tried to understand why Obama isn't popular anymore yet.
I learned that poem my mom wrote by heart.
I learned what the teacher told us today by heart.

As you can see, they can become pretty ambiguous, especially some of them, because you might think the adverbs refer to the verb in the last clause. My question is, in such cases:
  1. What happens in common speech, where ambiguity is tolerated more easily? Are those structures possible?
  2. What happens in writing? Do they need to be rephrased, and how?
Thank you in advance.
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Hi Kooyeen

As you know, there is a tendency in English not to separate the object from the verb because except for some pronouns there are no special grammatical cases for objects. Therefore we say:

I heard it there. (Not: I heard there it.)

However, if the object is long -- as it is in most of your sentences -- this "rule" need not be observed:

I heard there the language of my childhood.

There is often no real need for keeping the object next to the verb even when the object is short. It just seems to sound better to a native ear, and mine too. Swedish is another Germanic language grammatically very similar to English, but its word order is in some cases freer even though it, too, has no grammatical cases for objects. I have often wondered why the English have imposed such an unnecessarily rigid, inflexible order of words on themselves. I don't know the answer.

CB
Comments  
KooyeenWhat happens in common speech, where ambiguity is tolerated more easily? Are those structures possible?
What happens in writing? Do they need to be rephrased, and how?

In everyday speech, as you indicate, we are much more tolerant. However, in good writing, the adverbs need to be placed more carefully. I think that in some cases, even, the "less proper" position is so common that it might be acceptable even in so-called good writing.
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The ones with yet are easy to fix.

I haven't tried to understand why Paris Hilton isn't popular yet.

I still haven't tried to understand why Paris Hilton isn't popular.
___

Or you could just move yet.

I haven't tried yet to understand why Paris Hilton isn't popular.
___________

And I would just move by heart:

I learned what the teacher told us today by heart.

I learned by heart what the teacher told us today.
___

But a change of verb is also possible:

I memorized what the teacher told us today.
KooyeenWhat happens in common speech, where ambiguity is tolerated more easily? Are those structures possible?
You'll hear them in common speech. Somehow or other with intonation and/or pauses, they can sometimes be made to be less ambiguous.

CJ
 Cool Breeze's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thank you Philip, CB, and CJ.
I would have millions of questions about adverb position, because we all know it's a big mess. But since it's a big mess, I won't ask anything else (for now). It just wouldn't make sense, since every kind of adverb/verb/structure might have its exceptions and behave somewhat differently.
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