INVERSIONS GRAMMAR

Inversions are used to make sentences more formal, they are not so much used in spoken English as written but they do appear in the use of English and writing parts of the exam.

 

We usually form an inversion with a negative adverb + auxiliary verb + subject + compliments

ADVERB AUXILIARY SUBJECT COMPLIMENTS
HARDLY HAD STARTED TO SING WHEN….
BARELY COULD I BELIEVE MY EYES BEFORE…
SELDOM DO  HAVE THE CHANCE TO DO…
NEVER HAVE LISTENED TO SUCH BEAUTIFUL MUSIC…

Negative adverbs:

Never, seldom, rarely, hardly, Not until, at no time, under no circumstances, at no point, little, not only, by no means, never before

 

Examples:

Never have I been so angry with a person like I am with you right now.

The meaning of this: I have never been ………..

 

Little did I know that you were in the wrong place. at the wrong time.

The meaning of this: I did not know…

 

Not only should you study grammar, you should also do listening practice.

The meaning of this: You should not only study…

 

Be careful: we use no sooner to mean as soon as and we always use it with than.

For instance: no sooner… than…

No soon had I heard the unfortunate news than I called you.

 

 

Conditionals: see more conditionals grammar

All conditional sentences can be manipulated and you can change their word order. In formal usage, you can also use inversions. The meaning is exactly the same, but it is more formal or poetic.

 

Examples:

Were the teachers at the school better trained, problems like these wouldn´t occur.

The meaning of this: If the teachers were trained better……………

 

Had I known it was your birthday, I would have called you.

The meaning of this is: If I had known…

We also use inversions for emphasis, just like we do with cleft sentences

 

For example, in these sentences the most important point is the adverb, so this is why we begin with it.

Never before have I met such an annoying person:

At no time did you let me know your plans for this weekend.

Under no circumstances should you miss the deadline.

 

Practice questions:

Had you lived abroad as a child, would you speak better English now?

Had you gone on an Erasmus year, where would you have gone?

Were you able to do something exceptionally well, would you know how to make the most if it?

 

Practice inversions on our site in the grammar exercises section. Click on the button below

Recommended Posts
0