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Michigan TIPS, Issue #005 English Language Inversion
August 28, 2007

English Language Inversion

I know, I know, it's been a while since you've heard from me. I don't know about you all, but my summer passed by so quickly that it was gone before I even knew it was here!

I hope your summer was restful and you're ready to get back to work. Speaking of which, it's back to school and the classroom for me.

Before I get too busy with the day to day operations of our schools and websites, I wanted to get another Michigan TIPS in your mail box so here goes....

In this Michigan TIPS we'll be taking a look at some frequently tested grammar items.

These items are *MUSTS* as you are certain to be tested on them.



When the following words or phrases are used at the beginning of the sentence, the rest of it has an interrogative structure.

1 never, rarely, seldom

Never had we seen such an event!

2 hardly… when, scarcely… when, no sooner… than

No sooner had I sat down than the bell rang.

3 only by, only in this way, not only… but also…, only then

Only then did I realize who I was talking to.

4 not (even) once…, not often…

Not once did you call for help.

5 on no account, in no way, under no circumstances, by no means, at no time

Under no circumstances should this door be left unlocked.

6 little, nowhere, in vain Little did he know what he was about to encounter.

7 so + adj / adv… that; such (a) + adj + noun… that

So filthy were his clothes that we all gagged from the smell.

Such an awful time we had that we left after only thirty minutes.

NOTE only after…, only when…, only if…, not until / till…, have the inversion in the main clause:

Only when I called to cancel did I learn that the meting had been changed.

Not until you finish your homework can you go out to play.

Inverted Conditionals

If I were you, I would catch the next train out.

Inverted as...

Were I you, I would catch the next train out.

If I had known that, I wouldn’t have bothered to come.

Inverted as...

Had I known that, I wouldn’t have bothered to come.

If he should call, ask him to leave a message.

Inverted as...

Should he call, ask him to leave a message.


Well that's a brief review of inversion and some regularly tested items. Be sure you understand and recognize the above as you are certain to see it on your exam.

I'll be sending you some more grammar items to review in the next Michigan TIPS.


For excellent listening practice go to the following site and see what FREE material is available.

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Good learning - till next time!



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