fbpx

Inversion in English

Hi dear English learners. We’re going to learn some grammar today. You probably know that there is standard word order in English. It means that, among other things, a subject usually comes before a verb. However, sometimes the verb comes before the subject and we call it inversion. Let’s find out when we use inversion in English.

  • Inversion in questions
  • Inversion in conditionals
  • Inversion with SO and SUCH
  • Hopes and wishes with MAY
  • Inversion with negative adverbs and adverb phrases
  • Sentences starting with ONLY

Inversion in questions

First and foremost, we use inversion in questions. You all know that we put the auxiliary verb before the subject to form a question.

  • Can Lorna swim?
  • Where do you live?
  • Why did you do that?
  • Have you had your breakfast yet?

Inversion in English

Inversion in conditionals

We can replace if with the modal verbs should, were or had in the first, second and third conditionals. Remember that we can’t make inversion in the zero types conditional.

In the first conditional, we use should.

  • If he works on Saturday, we’ll make him a surprise birthday party. – Should he work on Saturday, we’ll make him a surprise birthday party.
  • If you put the kettle on without water, it will automatically shut itself off.Should you put the kettle on without water, it will automatically shut itself off.

Inversion in English

In the second conditional, we use were for all persons to make an inverted sentence.

If you worked harder, you would make more money. – Were you to work harder, you would make more money.

If he cleaned the windscreen, he would see better through it.  – Were he to clean the windscreen, he would see better through it. 

In the third conditional, we use had

  • If I had been more careful, I wouldn’t have broken the vase. – Had I been more careful, I wouldn’t have broken the vase.
  • If Milly had asked him, he would have accepted her invitation. – Had Milly asked him, he would have accepted her offer.

Inversion in English

Inversion with SO and SUCH

We normally use inversion with SO + adjective…that when we want to emphasise the quality of something.

  • So beautiful was her dress that everyone was looking at her.
  • So warm and pleasant was it outside that we stayed out till midnight.
  • So stupid was Philip that he couldn’t even find London on the map.

Look at these examples of SUCH + adjective…that:

  • Such a charitable person was he that he gave $50,000 to the victims of the earthquake.
  • Such was the noise that we had to close the windows.
  • Such a lovely day was it that we had to go out.

Inversion in English

Hopes and wishes  with MAY

We normally use inversion with MAY at the beginning of the sentence.

  • May all your dreams come true.
  • May the force be with you!
  • May New year bring you everything you wish for!

Inversion in English

Inversion with negative adverbs and adverb phrases

In order to emphasise, we place a negative adverb or adverb phrase at the beginning of the sentence. 

  • Never before has Steven met such a peculiar person.
  • Seldom have I seen him worried. 
  • Rarely did they talk about the accident.
  • Scarcely had we reached the stadium when it started to rain.
  • Barely had Michael touched his dinner when the bell rang.
  • Hardly could John see his mum from the distance.
  • Hardly ever has that lawyer of yours won a lawsuit.
  • Not until she heard it herself did she believe it.
  • No sooner had I lain the table than the guests arrived.
  • Not only is her new boyfriend handsome, but he is also rolling in money.
  • Never again will we have an opportunity like this to meet and greet The Queen in person.
  • Not once did she offer me some help with my final exams.
  • Little did I know about it.
  • On no account should you leave the baby alone.
  • In no way can you tell me what to do with my life.
  • Only in this way could she truly be happy and content.
  • To such an extent was I annoyed with my boss at the sales conference that I came close to handing in my notice.

Inversion in English

Sentences starting with only

  • Only recently have I realised what he had asked me.
  • Only later was the drug she had used shown as addictive.
  • Only then did Mary dare to talk about the problem openly.
  • Only when she removed her clothes did she notice the bruises on her body.
  • Only by being quiet can you hear what is going on.
  • Only once did we fly from London to Los Angeles directly.
  • Only twice a day does she ring her children when she is away on business .
  • Only in this way can you really make sure that your computer is not being hacked.
  • Only if the guards fall asleep, will we be able to escape from prison.

To sum up, we use inversion in the following cases:

  • Inversion in questions
  • Inversion in conditionals
  • Inversion with SO and SUCH
  • Hopes and wishes with MAY
  • Inversion with negative adverbs and adverb phrases
  • Sentences starting with ONLY

You can download the PDF with the lesson about Inversion in English here

Inversion in English
Inversion in English

If you really want to learn English but don’t know how to do it and where to start, don’t hesitate to contact us. Book an online English lesson with one of our certified and experienced English teachers and take a test and consultation. Choose the most suitable app: Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook Messenger. You should certainly join us for 30-minute conversation sessions. Check it out!

In case you have any questions regarding English or Skype private lessons, don’t hesitate to drop us a line on WhatsApp because we’d be happy to hear from you. 🙂


My Lingua Academy

My Lingua Academy is an online school of English language. We give one-on-one lessons to students of English of all ages and all levels of knowledge all around the world. With us you can prepare for written assignments and exams, attend a general or business English course, or have conversation classes with qualified English teachers who have years of experience.

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: