You are on page 1of 3

INVERSION (1)

A. In statements it is usual for the werb to follow the subject. Sometimes, however,
this word order is reversed. We can refer to this as INVERSION. Compare:
• Her father stood in the doorway. → In the doorway stood her father.
• He had rarely seen such a sunset. → Rarely had he seen such a sunset.
• He showed me his ID card. I only let him in them. → Only then did I let him in.
Notice how the subject comes after the werb (e.g. stood) or an auxiliary (e.g. had,
did). Units 119 and 120 study the circumstances in which inversion takes place.
Some of these are also looked at in earlier units and brought together here.

B. Inversion after adverbial phrasea of direction and place


When we put an adverbial phrase, especially of direction or place, at the beginning of
a sentence, we sometimes put an intransitive verb in front of its subject. This kind of
inversion is found particularly in formal or literary styles:
• Dave began to open the three parcels. Inside the first was a book of crosswords
from his Aunt Alice. (or, less formally Inside the first there was a book of
crosswords…)
With the verb be we always use inversion in sentences like this, and inversion is usual
with certain verbs of place of moment, such as climb, come, fly, go, hang, lie, run,
sit, stand:
• Above the fireplace was a portrait of the Duke. (not …a portrait of the Duke was.)
• In an armchair sat his mother. (rather than …his mother sat.)
Inversion doesn’t usually occur with orther verbs. We don’t invert subject and verb
when a subject is a pronoun. So, for example, we don’t say ‘In an armchair sat she.’

C. In speech, inversion often occurs after here and there, and adverbs such as back,
down, in, off, up, round, etc.:
• Here comes Sandra’s car.
• I lit the fuse and after a few seconds up went the rocket.

D. Inversion in conditional sentences


We can use clauses with inversion instead of certain kinds of if-clauses. Compare:

• It would be a serious setback, if the • It would be a serious setback, were


talks were to fail. the talks to fail.
• If you should need more • Should you need more information,
information, please telephone our please telephone our main office.
main office.
• If Alex had asked, I would have • Has Alex asked, I would have been
been able to help. able to help.

The sentences with inversion are rather more formal than those with ‘if’. Notice that
in negative clauses with inversion, we don’t use contracted forms:
• Had he not resigned, we would have been forced to sack him. (not Hadn’t he…)

E. Inversion in comparisons with ‘as’ and ‘than’


• The cake was excellent, as was the coffee. (or …as the coffee was.)
• I believed, as did my colleagues, that the plan would work. (or …as my
colleagues did…)
• Research shows that children living in villages watch more television than do their
counterparts in inner city areas. (or …than their counterparts do…)
We prefer to use inversion after as and than in formal written language. Notice that
we don’t invert subject and verb when the subject is a pronoun.

EXERCISES

I. Rewrite these sentences with the adverbial phrase(s) of direction or place at the front
of the clause. Use inversion where possible. (B & C)

1. The people dived for cover as the bullets flew over their heads. ...as
over their heads flew the bullets.
2. That night, just as John had predicted, a heavy snowfall came down.
3. The two men were talking in front of the station.
4. A line of police officers was behind the protesters.
5. A small stream ran at the end of the street. There was an overgrown
garden across the stream.
6. She could hear the sound of the tractor and suddenly it came round the
corner.
7. A white pillar was in front of them and a small, marble statue stood on top
of it.
8. The teacher blew a whistle and the children ran off.

II. Match the most likely santence halves and then make new sentences beginning
Were…, Should…, or Had… (D)

1. If the government were forced into a. you will be expected to start


another election, … work on 1st April.
2. If you should wish to make an b. a large area of the sea would be
appointment to see Dr Simons, … contaminated.
3. If she had become a lawyer, as her c. I would have been held
parents wished, … responsible.
4. If the chemicals were to leak, … d. it would be the favorite to win.
5. If you should have further problems e. she would have earned a large
with your printer, … salary.
6. If Germany were to beat Romania, … f. she is available between 9.00 and
7. If anything had gone wrong with my 11.00.
plan, … g. contact your dealer for advice.
8. If you should decide to accept the h. they would face Italy in the final.
post, …
Example: 1 + (d) Were the government to be forced into another
election, it would be the favorite to win.

III.Write new sentences from these situations using as or than + be or do. (E)

1. She loved staying in the cottage. Her friends who visited her there loved it,
too.
She loved staying in the cottage, as did her friends who visited
her there.
2. Compared to France, Germany has more company-cars on its roads.
Germany
........................................................................................................
3. The European Union is in economic difficulties, together with the USA
and Japan.
The European Union
........................................................................................................
4. Compared with ten years ago we now know a lot more about the Universe.
We now know
........................................................................................................
5. My sister knows something about computers, but I know a lot more.
I
........................................................................................................
6. After forty years the hotel is still there. The man who first ran it is there,
too.
After forty years, ...