Inversion

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We can use INVERSION to add emphasis in a number of different contexts, for example, to give strong advice, to express opinions clearly, to disagree, or to show concern.

Sentences with inversion are less common in everyday English. Using inversion in a sentence will make it sound quite formal. If you don’t intend to make an emphasis in your sentence, the normal order of words should be retained.

 

How to construct an inversion? Take a look at these examples:

• I had never seen such a horrible accident in my life. (normal sentence)

Never had I seen such a horrible accident in my life. (inversion)

“Never” is what is known as a ‘negative adverbial’. In inversion structure, “never” has been taken away from the sentence’s main verb phrase and inserted at the beginning. Additionally, the past auxiliary “had” is placed in front of the subject, “I”.

 

The basic formula for transforming common sentences into more emphatic statements is as follows:

Negative Adverbial or ‘Only’/’No’ Expression + Auxiliary or Modal Verb + Subject + Main Verb + Object

 

NEGATIVE ADVERBIALS include: never, rarely, not since, hardly, never before, not until, little, at no time etc.

• We had never heard such a fascinating story.

Never had we heard such a fascinating story.

 

• I will rarely eat chocolate during the week.

Rarely will I eat chocolate during the week.

 

NO / NOT ONLY expressions include: under no circumstances, not only, no sooner, in no way, only when etc.

• You shouldn’t leave your children unsupervised under no circumstances.

Under no circumstances should you leave your children unsupervised.

 

• Fruit and vegetables are not only good for your health, but they are also extremely delicious.

Not only are fruit and vegetables good for your health, but they also extremely delicious.

 

• The cyclist was in no way held responsible for the recent accident.

In no way was the cyclist held responsible for the recent accident.

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