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New information

Posted by R. Berg on May 22, 2001

In Reply to: New information posted by ESC on May 22, 2001

: : Hi again!

: : I understand that new information tends to go to the last part of sentence. However, an adverb (phrase) may have new information when it is used at the beginning of the sentence. Does 'out of all the lies' have new information in sentence 1? How about sentence 2? I wonder what is the difference between these following sentences?

: : 1. Out of all the lies comes one great and simple truth.
: : 2. One great and simple truth comes out of all the lies.

: : I appreciate for your help.

: : Sincerely,

: : K Yone

: No. 1 just sounds better. More elegant. That's the only explanation I can give. Good writers learn the rules and then sometimes break the rules.

In all the English courses I took, nothing was said about classifying the content of a sentence as new or old information. Of course, whatever information comes at the end of a sentence is newer than the information at the beginning by the time the listener hears it, because the beginning of the sentence has been heard a second or two earlier.

Both #1 and #2 are correct; the choice between them is a matter of rhetoric. #1 is more dramatic. It leads the listener/reader to expect a description of the particular simple truth to follow, like this: "Out of all the lies comes one great and simple truth: My worthy opponent is unfit for public office."

Putting a word or phrase at the end of a sentence gives it emphasis. #1 emphasizes the truth. #2 emphasizes the lies, but not so much as #1 emphasizes the truth, because "one great . . . truth" is strong language and competes for the listener's attention with the placement of "lies" at the end.