Inversion of subject and verb


DECEMBER 13, 2014
In English, the usual order of words in a
sentence is subject + verb + object.
Sometimes certain adverbs come at the
beginning of the sentence. This order is then
inverted and the verb comes before the
subject.
Study the following sentences.
Scarcely had I stepped out when the
telephone rang.
Hardly had I reached the station when the
train departed.
No sooner had she read the telegram
than she started crying.
Never have I seen such a mess.
Note that the sentences given above can
also be written with normal word order.
I had scarcely stepped out when the
telephone rang.
I had hardly reached the station when the
train departed.
Exercise
Rewrite the following sentences, putting the
adverb first and inverting the subject and
verb.
1. I have seldom heard such a beautiful
voice.
2. He had hardly sat down for dinner when
someone knocked at the door.
3. I have never heard such utter nonsense.
4. They not only looted the shop, but also
set fire to it.
Answers
1. Seldom have I heard such a beautiful
voice.
2. Hardly had he sat down for dinner when
someone knocked at the door.
3. Never have I heard such utter nonsense.
4. Not only did they loot the shop, but also
set fire to it.

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