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?
When Do We Use Inversion?
Most commonly, we use inversion when we want to form a question. However, inversion happens in other situations:
A statement has the subject (s) + verb (v), but to form a question, we invert the subject and the verb, with an auxiliary (aux) or modal verb (m) before the subject (s). We can use inversion to form yes-no questions and wh- questions, we should know that inversion does not normally appear in indirect questions.
Negative Adverbs of Frequency
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
Expressions Beginning With 'Not'
- not only
- not for one moment
- not since
- not until
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 the main verb without an auxiliary verb or modal verb.
Inversion in Conditional Sentences
Inversion in English can be used with third conditional sentences and second conditional sentences, in third conditional we can invert the subject and had to replace "if" and in second conditional sentences with were when the subject and were can replace if by inversion:
After 'So + Adjective...That'
sometimes we can place ‘so’ at the beginning + an adjective and that. Let’s see some example:
The boy was so happy that he was jumping up and down.
Normal word order
Expressions Involving ''No''
Here are some examples of expressions containing "No" to make inversions:
- under no circumstances
- at no time
- in no way
- no sooner
Expressions Beginning With "Only"
There are some expressions starting with "Only" that the inversion happens right after them, and there are some expressions starting with "Only" that the inversion happens in the second clause.
here are some expressions which the inversion happens right after them:
- only with
- only now
- only later
- only then
Here are some expressions which the inversion happens in the second clause:
- only when
- only once
- only if
- only after
Expressions with "Little" and "Such"
"Little" and "Such" are less commonly used in daily English.
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.