Phrase reordering in a sentence



I recruited them to help me in the project.

Is it possible to say and mean the same thing?

To help me in the project, I recruited them.


Posted 2014-03-17T22:34:58.063

Reputation: 664



Your rewrite is grammatical, but it is unlikely that a native writer would use it.

This is not a matter of idiom, but of “information packaging”. Usually the “new” and therefore most important information in a sentence falls in the predicate—usually the verb and its complements or sometimes a closing adjunct which adds information about the predicate. For instance: in your first sentence the personal pronoun them has to refer to something earlier in your discourse; you have already inroduced or called attention to them; so the new information is presumably the fact that you recruited them and why.

The two gentlemen on the platform are John Doe and Richard Roe; I recruited them to help with the project.

But in your second sentence, them occupies the strongest possible position: it is the final word of the sentence and of the very short main clause. Them almost has to be the new information; and yet it refers to people already introduced. We have to strain to invent circumstances in which this would be natural. Perhaps them is used emphatically, as a demonstrative rather than a personal pronoun; think of this as a stage play:

M: To help me in this project I recruited— (pointing) them!
(The doors are flung open to reveal John and Richard. The assembled journalists applaud wildly.)

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2014-03-17T22:34:58.063

Reputation: 176 469


Yes that's fine but clumsy- better to express who them are for the latter form- e.g. those people. However the original sentence isn't right. It should be "I recruited them in order to help me with the project." and "In order to help me with the project, I recruited those people."


Posted 2014-03-17T22:34:58.063

Reputation: 219

There's nothing wrong with the sentences given. "In order to..." is understood given the context. It is not required. – relaxing – 2014-03-17T22:49:07.893