I've been looking at this sentence 公共职员在超市进行了调查 and wondering if it could be reordered and still be grammatically correct.

I came up with 在超市公共职员进行调查了 but my grammar textbook answer only shows 公共职员在超市进行了调查.

Please help.

  • cf. taylorfrancis.com/books/9781444149586 When occurring at the beginning of a sentence, the PP (prepostion phrase) usually introduces the background for the rest of the sentence, including information such as time, location, topic, reason, purpose, reference, and condition. Therefore, 在超市 公共职员进行调查了 (In the supermarket public officials ...,公共职员, public officials/workers,being of indefinite determination) would seem perfectly ok. In 公共职员在超市进行了调查 公共职员 is of definite determination: The public officials ...
    – user6065
    Jul 15, 2018 at 5:07
  • replace "determination" by "reference", the correct terms are "(in)definite reference"
    – user6065
    Jul 15, 2018 at 5:29
  • @user6065 So, without the 有, the sentence I've proposed would be incorrect? 进行了调查 also puzzles me. How is it not 进行调查了? Considering how the sentence 你吃饭了吗, is not 你吃了饭, the segment 进行调查了 seems natural to me.. How should I understand this? Jul 15, 2018 at 7:31
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    At least it sounds strange, it may clash with readers expectations (of officials not to have been mentioned before), with 在。。。 at the start 那些公共职员。。。 would avoid such a clash, 公共职员 at the start is of definite reference, which means they have been mentioned before and could be translated as "these officials", also the sentence could start with 有公共职员 in which case the meaning is "officials carry out inspections ..." 调查 can be considered the object of the verb 进行, and grammar requires completion (aspect)
    – user6065
    Jul 15, 2018 at 9:42
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    进行了调查 and 进行调查了 are both grammatical. The emphasis is on the last word, so 进行了调查 focuses on what have been conducted (investigation), while 进行调查了 acknowledges the whether the investigation took place (yes). 进行调查了 is more suitable for contexts where investigation is already mentioned and the sentence is to confirm the result.
    – NS.X.
    Jul 15, 2018 at 10:49

1 Answer 1


Your sentence 在超市公共职员进行调查了 is ok. It's better you put a comma: 在超市,公共职员进行调查了. But logically, 公共职员在超市进行了调查 sounds better. You can split it like: 公共职员在超市/进行了/调查. The first part 公共职员在超市 talks about: 公共职员 is in supermarket; The second part talks about the action 进行了; The third part talks about the target of the verb: 调查;

As for 进行了调查 vs 进行调查了, 进行调查了 takes 进行调查 together as a verbal phrase while 进行了调查 separates it into two words 进行 and 调查. 进行了调查 put an emphasis on the word 调查, which is what 公共职员 have done in the supermarket.

Hope this clear.

  • Thanks for your comment. I just need one more clarification. In what ways does 公共职员在超市进行了调查 sound better than 在超市公共职员进行调查了? From your comment, it seems both are equally feasible. If it's awkward, I am curious why it is so grammatically. Jul 20, 2018 at 14:41
  • @金允雄Oliver both are grammatical. Neither sounds awkward. The order 公共职员在超市进行了调查 is more logical as I said in the answer.
    – dan
    Jul 20, 2018 at 14:54

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