Inversion of the verb after certain adverbs

In this article, we're going to have a look at inversion that sometimes takes place with certain adverbs and adverb phrases, mostly with a negative or restrictive sense. Such adverbs (adverb phrases)  can be placed first in a sentence or clause for emphasis. They are then  followed by the interrogative (i.e. inverted ) form of the verb.

The most important of these adverbs include:

  • hardly ever     
  • never                                       
  • scarcely ever
  • only by
  • in no circumstances                  
  • only in this way on no account
  • hardly . . . when 
  • only then/when no sooner . . . than       
  • scarcely . . . when
  • not only                                   
  • seldom
  • nowhere
  • not till                                     
  • so
  • neither/nor          

Examples of how to use them:

  • I had never before been to lie. =
    Never before had I been asked to lie.
  • a) / haven't got any money.
    b) Neither/Nor have I.
  • They not only rob you, they smash everything too. =
    Not only do they rob you, they smash everything too.
  • She became so depressed that. . . =
    So sepressed did she become that. . .
  • This switch must not be touched on any account. =
    On no account must this switch be touched.
  • Mike didn't realize how difficult how situation was till he received the letter. =
    Not till he received the letter did he realize how difficult his situation was.

Also note  that a second negative verb in a sentence can sometimes be expressed by nor with inversion:

  • She had no friends and didn't know anyone who could help her. =
    She had no friends, nor did she know anyone who could help her.

You can now check your understading here.

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