Which Sentence Structure Do You Prefer?

Here are five versions of the same sentence, but with the phrase at its expense positioned differently in each one:

1. At its expense, the Publisher shall send 20 review copies of the Work to individuals named by the Author.

2. The Publisher shall at its expense send 20 review copies of the Work to individuals named by the Author.

3. The Publisher shall send at its expense 20 review copies of the Work to individuals named by the Author.

4. The Publisher shall send 20 review copies of the Work at its expense to individuals named by the Author.

5. The Publisher shall send 20 review copies of the Work to individuals named by the Author at its expense.

6. The Publisher, at its expense, shall send 20 review copies of the Work to individuals named by the Author.

Which do you prefer? Generally, the principle is that it’s best to keep the subject, verb, and object together (see MSCD 17.6). By that standard, the first sentence should be the winner. Is that what you, dear reader, think? Vote below. [Updated! Prompted by A. Wright Burke and Vance Koven, I’ve added a sixth option.]

Of course, the fifth option is a turkey, as it could result in a reader miscue, with the reader thinking, at least for a moment, that the expense referred to would be incurred in naming individuals.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.