Inversion in English Grammar: A Comprehensive Guide

In English sentences, it is common to invert the verb and subject, meaning the natural order (subject + verb + ...) becomes (verb + subject). Inversion is most commonly used in question forms, but there are other circumstances where subject-verb inversion occurs:

Inversion in Questions:

In questions, the auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

  • Example: Is he going to the club?
  • Example: Did he go to the club?
  • Example: Where is the club?
  • Example: Who is that guy standing there? (No inversion since it's a subject question)

Inversion in Other Expressions:

Inversion is also used in other types of sentences, including negative and affirmative sentences.

  • Affirmative and Negative Agreement: Inversion is used after so, nor, and neither, but not with either and too.
    • Example: Alex went to the club, and so did his brother.
    • Example: Alex went to the club, and Jenny did too. (No inversion)
    • Example: Robert hasn't arrived yet, neither has his companion.
    • Example: Robert hasn't arrived yet; Robin hasn't either. (No inversion)
    • Example: Russell is not a footballer, and nor is Alex.
  • Negative Adverbial Expressions at the Beginning: Inversion is used when a negative adverbial expression begins the sentence.
    • Example: In no way should we accept their offer.
    • Example: Little did they know about me.
    • Example: Never has he felt so embarrassed.
    • Example: Seldom do they go on a tour.
    • Example: Rarely do we see gypsies.
    • Example: Hardly ever do they talk to each other.
  • Beginning with "only" and "not only": Inversion is used with sentences beginning with "only" and "not only".
    • Example: Only if they come would I go.
    • Example: Only by researching can you solve this problem.
    • Example: Only after lunch can you play.
    • Example: Not only did they kill the adults, but they also killed the children.
  • Adverbials at the Beginning: Inversion is used with adverbial expressions at the beginning of a sentence.
    • Example: Hardly had I reached there when he left.
    • Example: Seldom does the teacher finish his class early.
    • Example: Rarely does Alex forget to do his homework.
  • Adverbs of Place ("here" and "there") at the Beginning: Inversion is used when sentences begin with "here" or "there" as the adverb of place.
    • Example: There is a lady standing in front of the club.
    • Example: Here comes the king.
    • Example: Here is your homemade cola.
    • Example: There are so many people in that field.
  • Some Prepositional Phrases at the Beginning: Inversion is used with certain prepositional phrases at the beginning of a sentence.
    • Example: Into the room came she when I was sleeping.
    • Example: Behind me cries a child.
    • Example: Over the table hangs a painting.
  • Conditionals without the Conjunction: Inversion is used in conditionals without the conjunction "if".
    • Example: Had he been there, he could have seen it.
    • Example: Were I the president, I could do good things.
    • Example: Were he my brother, I would support him to reach his dreams.
    • Example: Should you go there, I will go with you.
Grammar Lab
Cookie Consent
We serve cookies on this site to analyze traffic, remember your preferences, and optimize your experience.
It seems there is something wrong with your internet connection. Please connect to the internet and start browsing again.
AdBlock Detected!
We have detected that you are using adblocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website, we request you to whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.
Site is Blocked
Sorry! This site is not available in your country.