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What Is Time Manner Place?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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Time manner place is a linguistic term that experts use to talk about syntax in different languages; this term refers to where certain parts of a sentence identifying time, manner, and place are located in various languages. This sort of designation can be helpful to scholars who are analyzing languages. It can also help beginners to understand the basis of a language that they are trying to learn.

Generally, time manner place relates to the inclusion of all three elements in one sentence. For example, someone might say in English: “I went to the store in the car today.” This example illustrates the placement of the three components in order of place, manner, and time. Linguists say that English uses a place manner time setup, where languages like German and Japanese utilize a time manner place approach.

In the above example, it’s clear that time, manner, and place do not constitute the whole sentence. Instead, they follow a primary part of the sentence that identifies the subject. This follows the conventional “subject/predicate” relationship in English, where a noun commonly precedes a verb and various modifiers or descriptors.

On the other hand, speakers may use less straightforward or more complex syntax to express the same ideas. If the English speaker in the first example says “Today, I used the car. I went to the store.” He or she is first placing the time, in a sort of informal clause, in front of the subject. The speaker is also splitting the manner and place elements into two sentences.

Even more elaborate constructions can obscure the general rule of time manner place or other conventions in a given language. For example, the same English speaker can say “It was cloudy today when I went to the store in the car.” Here, the description of the setting precedes the time element, which comes before manner and place again.

It’s important to understand that time manner place, and place manner time are only markers for a general syntax in a language, and not the only sequences that are used. Understanding the nature of a time manner place designation or other linguistic conventions requires knowing when “rules may be bent,” or how additional syntax can change a rule. Altering the order is often used as a means of emphasizing one of the elements over the others, for example.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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