Posted by: a2cristina | May 5, 2010



We invert the subject and auxiliary verb in the sentence to give emphasis. This happens:

  • After certain expressions when they are at the beginning of a sentence.


In / Under no circumstances

Rarely Never
Scarcely (ever)… when Nowhere
Hardly (ever)… when Never before
No sooner… than Not only… but also
On no occasion In no way

Nor / Neither

Not even once

On no account Only in this way
Little Barely

Rarely do we see him these days.

No sooner had we got into the house than he phoned us.

  • When the following expressions begin a sentence, we use inversion in the main clause.

Only after, only by, only if, only when, not till / until, not since.

Only after he had graduated, did he start looking for a job.

Only if you invite her, will she come to your party.

Not until all tests had been completed, were we told the results.

  • After so, such, to such a degree (in result clauses) when they are at the beginning of a sentence.

So careful is he that he never makes any mistakes.

Such a brilliant student was he that he was offered a scholarship.

  • With should, were, had in conditionals at the beginning of the sentence when “if” is omitted.

Type 1: Should you see him, tell him to call me. (= If you should see him…)

Type 2: Were I you, I would cancel my trip. (= If I were you…)

Type 3: Had he known, he would have made arrangements. (= If he had known…)

  • After so, neither / nor, as when expressing agreement.

“I hate horror films.” “So do I.” (“So” is used to agree with an affirmative statement.)

“Jane hasn’t returned our calls.” “Neither / Nor has her husband.” (“Neither / Nor” are used to agree with a negative statement).

His colleagues respected him as did his boss.

The subject and the main verb are also usually inverted in the following structures:

  • After adverbs of place or time

Here comes the bride!

Away ran the thief!

  • In Direct speech when the reporting verb comes after the quote and the subject is a noun.

“I’ve never seen him,” said Helen.


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