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General Writing and Grammar Help/question about sentence structure: "I badly wanted to (do something)" or "I wanted to (do something)badly".

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Question
Dear Ted,
I have a question about sentence structure. I'm not sure if you say "I badly wanted to (do something)" or "I wanted to (do something)badly". Or are both ways correct? In other words, are all of the following sentences grammatically correct?
1. I badly wanted to play football.
2. I wanted to play football badly.
3. I badly wanted to see her.
4. I wanted to see her badly.

Answer
Dear Glen:

I have a question about sentence structure. I'm not sure if you say "I badly wanted to (do something)" or "I wanted to (do something)badly". Or are both ways correct? In other words, are all of the following sentences grammatically correct?
1. I badly wanted to play football.
2. I wanted to play football badly.
3. I badly wanted to see her.
4. I wanted to see her badly.

*** I understand your question and your doubt.  Examples 1, 3, and 4 are correct.  For #4, the adverb "badly" would be better placed immediately after "I," as you did in #1 and #3.

The problem is with #2.  The sentence is grammatically correct, but there is a great chance that it will be misinterpreted by the reader.  

EXAMPLE:

Q:  How well does John play football?
A:  He plays football badly.  [The answer means that John is a very poor football player.]

In reality, everyone should understand what you mean by #2, because it would be very unusual for someone to WANT to be a failure at anything, including playing football.  To remove all doubt, however, I suggest that you move the adverb "badly" to either "I badly wanted" or "I wanted badly" to play football.

Here's another suggestion:  I would avoid using the word "badly" in this type of sentence.  There are many other adverbs that do a better job:  I REALLY WANTED to play football.

Another tangent thought:

I can remember the following from my elementary school days.  

"How do you feel?"
"I feel badly."

The proper answer is "I feel bad," with the adjective "bad" modifying the subject "I."  Our teacher would point out that if you FEEL BADLY, there is something wrong with your fingers, since your sense of touch is not working correctly.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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