English Grammar and Exercises for ESL learners.
(verb before the subject)
Inversion means putting the verb
before the subject.
It is a literary technique in which the normal order of words is reversed, generally for emphasis
or special effect. It makes a sentence sound striking or unusual. It also sounds quite formal.
Sentences with inversion are less common in
In a sentence with no special effect or emphasis, the normal order of words is retained.
Example 1 :
I have never seen such a beautiful rose.
Example 2 :
Never have I seen such a beautiful rose.
example 2 inversion is used to emphasise the fact that
your whole lifetime
you have not seen such a beautiful rose.
It is sometimes difficult to remember when inversion is
or can be used.
Here are some guidelines and examples to help you.
|In normal everyday English, inversion is used :
In written English, as well as in a very formal style, inversion can be used in the following cases :
- To make questions :
Does he? Can you?
- After 'so' 'neither', 'nor' :
So do I, neither do I, nor do I.
- After negative adverbial expressions :
- Under no circumstances can we accept credit cards.
- In no way can he be held responsible.
- At no time did she say she would come.
- Not until I heard my name did I believe I had won the race.
- After adverbial expressions of place :
- Round the corner came the postman.
- On the doorstep was a bunch of flowers.
- After 'seldom', 'rarely', 'never', and 'little' :
- Seldom have I seen such a beautiful view.
- Rarely did he pay anyone a compliment.
- Never had I felt so happy.
- Little did he imagine how dangerous it would be.
- After 'hardly', 'scarcely', 'no sooner', when one thing happens after another.
- Hardly had I begun to speak when I was interrupted.
- Scarcely had we started our meal when the phone rang.
- No sooner had I arrived than they all started to argue.
- After adverbial expressions beginning with 'only' and 'not only' :
- Only after the meeting did I realize the importance of the subject.
- Only when the plane landed safely did he calm down.
- Not only was the car slow, it was also very uncomfortable.
- Conditionals with inversions
In conditional sentences we can sometimes replace the 'if' with an inversion:
- Had I known it would be so difficult I would never have enrolled.
- After exclamations with 'here' and 'there' :
- Here comes the winner!
- There goes all our money!
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