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Inverted word order

When used with a verb of motion, an adverb or adverb phrase of location may be placed at the
beginning of a clause, followed immediately by the verb, followed by the noun subject of the
verb. This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.

adverb phrase verb of noun


of location + motion + subject

Up the hill trundled the train.


Here come our friends.

If the subject of the verb is a personal pronoun, the subject must precede the verb, as
illustrated below:

adverb phrase pronoun verb of


of location + subject + motion

Up the hill it trundled.


Here they come.

Negative adverbs

Negative adverbs include adverbs with an explicit negative meaning, such as never, not and
nowhere, as well as adverbs with an implied negative meaning, such as hardly, scarcely and
seldom.

i. Double negatives

In modern English, there is a rule that a clause containing one negative word expresses a
negative meaning, but a clause containing two negative words expressed an affirmative
meaning. In the case of a clause with two negative words, it is considered that one of these
words negates the other, so that an affirmative meaning results. The presence of two negative
words in a clause is referred to as a double negative.
In some dialects of English, clauses containing two negative words may be used to express a
negative meaning.
e.g. I'm not saying nothing about it.
He never told nobody the secret.
However, this use of the double negative is considered to be grammatically incorrect in
standard English.
For each of the above examples, the double negative can be eliminated by omitting or altering
one of the negative words. Thus, the meaning of the first example could be correctly
expressed by either of the following sentences:
I'm saying nothing about it. Or
I'm not saying anything about it.
Similarly, the meaning of the second example could be correctly expressed by either of the
following sentences:
He told nobody the secret. Or
He never told anybody the secret.

ii. Inverted word order

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If a clause begins with a negative adverb, inverted word order must usually be used, with the
subject following the Simple Present or Simple Past of the verb to be, or the first auxiliary. In
the case of the Simple Present or Simple Past of any verb other than the verb to be, the
auxiliary to do must be used. This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.
Simple form of
negative adverb + verb to be or + subject
or adverb phrase first auxiliary

Never before was I so eager to reach home.


Little did we think we would meet again.
Seldom had they tasted such a delicacy.

Following are other examples of this type of construction. The negative adverbs and adverb
phrases are printed in bold type, and the subjects of the verbs are underlined.
e.g. Seldom was he at a loss for words.
Scarcely had we left the house, when it began to rain.
Not for many years was the true story known.
No sooner did the bell ring than the children ran out of the school.
In the first example, the subject he follows was, the Simple Past of the verb to be. In the
succeeding examples, the subjects we, story and bell follow the auxiliaries had, was and did,
respectively.
In this type of inverted construction, if there is used as an introductory word, there follows
the Simple Past or Simple Present of the verb to be, or the first auxiliary.
e.g. Seldom were there more than five ducks on the pond.
Rarely had there been more swans on the lake than there were that day.
In the first example, there follows were, the Simple Past of the verb to be. In the second
example, there follows the auxiliary had, of the verb had been.
It should be noted that the expression so ... that can also be used with inverted word order.
e.g. So exhausted were we that we fell asleep at the table.
In this example, the subject we follows the verb were.

3. Interrogative adverbs

The adverbs how, when, where and why can be used as interrogative adverbs at the
beginning of direct questions. The interrogative adverbs in the following direct questions are
printed in bold type.
e.g. How are you?
When is he coming?
Where were you?
Why did you say that?
As shown in these examples, inverted word order must be used, with the subject following the
Simple Past or Simple Present of the verb to be, or the first auxiliary. In the case of the
Simple Present and Simple Past of verbs other than the verb to be, the auxiliary to do must be
used. In the following examples, the subjects are underlined.
e.g. How is your sister?
When did you see him?
Where is she going?
Why has he changed his mind?

In these examples, the subject sister follows the verb is, and the subjects you, she and he

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follow the auxiliaries did, is and has, respectively.

As well as being used as interrogative adjectives at the beginning of direct questions, how,
when, where and why can also be used at the beginning of subordinate clauses. In the
following examples, the subordinate clauses are underlined.
e.g. Be ready to start when you hear the signal.
He camped close to where the brook flows into the lake.
In the first example, when you hear the signal is an adverb clause of time. In the second
example, where the brook flows into the lake is an adverb clause of location.

In addition to being used at the beginning of adverb clauses, how, when, where and why can
also be used at the beginning of indirect questions. In the following examples, the indirect
questions are underlined.
e.g. I want to know how he did that.
I wonder when they will arrive.
Please tell me where the school is.
I will ask why she left early.

As pointed out previously, inverted word order is not used in indirect questions. Thus, the
subject of an indirect question precedes the verb. In the following examples, the subjects are
underlined.
e.g. We should find out how the information was transmitted.
Ask her when she will be here.
I wonder where they are.
Please find out why he could not come with us.
In these examples, the subjects information, she, they and he precede the verbs was
transmitted, will be, are and could come.

http://www.fortunecity.com/bally/durrus/153/gramch24.html#2f2

Grammar

Verbs
Inversion

Inversion involves putting an auxiliary verb before the subject of a clause. We do this in a number of different
situations:

Questions:
The most common use of inversion is in the forming of questions. We use the auxiliary verbs be (for progressive
and passive forms), have (for perfect forms) and do (for most other forms). Modal verbs can also be inverted to
form questions:
• Were they ready when you arrived?
• Where was it made?
• Have you ever visited France?
• Where do you live?
• What should we do now?
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/internet-grammar/function/subjinv.htm

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Negative and restrictive adverbs:
In formal English, it is quite common to use inversion after negative adverbial expressions and restrictive words
such as only, never, hardly and little.
• At no time did he get permission for what he was doing.
• Not until the next morning did she realise how serious it was.
• Only later did they learn his terrible secret.
• Never before have I seen such awful behaviour.
• Hardly had we walked in the door when the phone started ringing.
• Little do you know how much trouble you are in.
http://www.fortunecity.com/bally/durrus/153/gramch24.html#2g2
http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/Inversion.htm
http://www.edufind.com/english/grammar/ADVERBS7.cfm

So, nor and neither:


Inversion is common when using these words to expression agreement or disagreement.
• I'm from Turkey. So am I.
• I don't like monsters! Nor/Neither do I.
See our archive.

Conditional clauses:
In formal English, the if clause in conditional sentences can be rephrased through inversion:
• Were you to win the election, what's the first thing you'd do? = If you won the election …
• Had we known what the weather would be like, we wouldn't have come = If we had known what …
http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/conditional.htm

May:
When we are making wishes, we can use inversion:
• May you both live happily ever after!

Exclamations:
We can use inversion to make exclamations:
• Aren't you a silly girl!
• Isn't it a lovely day!

For more information about inversion, see the following web sites:
General
http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/subjects.htm#inversion
http://www.bartleby.com/116/303.html
Quizzes
http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/Inversion1.htm
http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/Inversion2.htm
http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/Inversion3.htm
http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/Inversion4.htm
http://www.cityu.edu.hk/elc/quiz/inverse.htm

Inversion

Inversion is used to give emphasis or to be rhetorical in more formal situations, in political


speeches, on the news, and also in literature. Some native speakers may also use them
occasionally in day-to-day conversation.
Look at these examples, and then try the exercises at the bottom of the page.

At no time
e.g. At no time did I say I would accept late homework.

Hardly........when
This is used to refer to an event that quickly follows another. It is usually used with the

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past perfect.
e.g. Hardly had I got into bed, when there was a knock at the door.

Less used is Hardly....before.


e.g. Hardly had I left before the trouble started.

Little
e.g. Little did I know that he was a compulsive liar.
Little does she know what surprises we have in store for her.

No sooner.....than
This is used to refer to an event that quickly follows another. It is usually used with the
past perfect, but sometimes with the simple past.

e.g. No sooner had I reached the door than I realised it was locked.
No sooner did I reach the door than I realised it was locked.

Not + object
e.g. Not a single word did she say.

Not only.....but also


e.g. "Not only has McDonalds, which employs over 1
million people worldwide, played a huge role in pioneering low standards now equated with
the word "McJobs", but it has also decided to restrict our ability to have a public
discussion about the impact of the McJobs phenomenon", Naomi Klein, "No Logo: Taking
Aim at Brand Bullies" (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2000)

Not until
e.g. Not until January will I have a holiday.

Nowhere
e.g. Nowhere had Susan seen a more beautifully decorated room.

Only after
This is usually used with the simple past.
e.g. Only after the film started did I realise that I'd seen it before.

On no account/Under no circumstances
e.g. On no account should you be absent from your seminars.

Only then/if/when/later
This is usually used with the simple past.

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e.g. Only then did I know what I had got myself into.

Rarely/Seldom/Never
These are most commonly used with the present perfect or past perfect, & with
modals such as can and could. The present simple can also be used.
e.g. Seldom have I seen him looking so miserable.
"Rarely does a movie make you feel so warm and so uneasy at the same time." - Review
of `Hearts in Atlantis` in the Canadian Province, 28/09/01
Never in her life had she experienced this exhilarating emotion.

Scarcely/Barely....when
This is used to refer to an event that quickly follows another. It is usually used with the
past perfect.
e.g. Scarcely had I arrived home when there was a knock on the door.

So......that
This is a common inversion, usually used with an adjective & the verb `be`.
e.g. So exciting was the soap opera, that I forgot to do my English homework.

It can also be used with much.


e.g. So much did she adore John, that she would not give him up.

Such....that
Used with the verb `be` and a noun, it means so much or so great.
Such was the popularity of the soap opera, that the streets were deserted whenever it
e.g.
was on.
http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/Inversion.htm

Some negative adverbs can cause an inversion - the order is reversed and
the verb goes before the subject.

Example: I have never seen such courage. Never have I seen such courage.
She rarely left the house. Rarely did she leave the house.

Negative inversion is used in writing, not in speaking.


Other adverbs and adverbial expressions that can be used like this:
seldom, scarcely, hardly, not only .....
but also, no sooner .....
than, not until, under no circumstances.

http://www.edufind.com/english/grammar/ADVERBS7.cfm

PRACTICE

Turn the following into inverted sentences.

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1. The matter could be explained in no other way.

2. We had hardly started when it began to rain.

3. I have seldom heard such beautiful singing.

4. I shall never forget your kindness.

5. I saw only then the danger we were in.

6. We had no sooner left the house than it exploded.

7. He didn't realize that he had lost the key till he got home.

8. They not only robbed you, they smashed everything.

9. Half a dozen apples fell down.

10. If an emergency should arise, dial 999.

11. If Rex were a little more hardworking, he would not have failed.

12. If Mr Chan had been kinder to his employees, his business would not have collapsed.

http://www.cityu.edu.hk/elc/quiz/inverse.htm