Inversion and Fronting
Inversion and fronting occur when we invert the normal sentence order. In this lesson, we will study these two grammatical structure.
What Is Inversion?
What Do We Mean by Inversion?
Inversion is the noun of the verb 'invert.' 'To invert' means 'to reverse.'
The normal word order of a typical sentence in English is subject + verb. When we change the normal word order of a sentence, inversion happens.
They are dancing. → Are they dancing?
He swims. → Does he swim?
Mathew can sing. → Can Mathew sing?
When Do We Use Inversion?
Most commonly, we use inversion when we want to form a question. However, inversion happens in other situations:
- Negative adverbs
- Here and there
- Sentences beginning with not
When we use adverbs that have a negative meaning, such as 'never,' 'seldom,' 'rarely,' 'scarcely,' 'hardly' in the front position for emphasis in a sentence, we invert the subject and auxiliary or modal verb.
Note that these types of sentences are used in formal styles of writing.
Common Negative Adverbs
- no way
- at no time
Adverbs Here and There
When 'here' and 'there' are used as adverbs of place at the beginning of a sentence, inversion happens. After 'here' and 'there,' we can use a main verb without an auxiliary verb or modal verb.
Sentences Beginning with Not
What Do We Mean By Fronting?
Normally, the word order in an affirmative sentence is subject + verb + object or complement. However, sometimes, especially in spoken English, when we want to put emphasis on something important, we bring it to the front of the sentence. This is called 'fronting' (also called front-focus or preposing).
I bought a brand new smartphone. And
He keeps saying hurtful things.
Words like adjuncts or complements normally are not placed at the beginning of a sentence. But when we want to put emphasis on them, we place them at the beginning of the clause. This happens mostly in written or formal texts.
When we place a prepositional phrase in the front position, often the order of the subject and the verb is changed.
In informal situations, sometimes we take the subject or object from within the clause and put it at the front of the clause. This is often done when the noun phrase is too long and we usually use a pronoun to replace it.
Inversion and fronting mean to put the words in other orders that are actually correct as well and imply particular purposes.
We use inversion for:
|Here and there|
|Sentences beginning with not|
We use fronting with: