Inversion of Subject and Verb

In English, most sentences are constructed by having the subject first, followed by the verb and then rest of the predicate, which can include a direct object and an indirect object, among other things. German, on the other hand, often has the verb at the very end of the sentence, which, when translated literally, can make you sound like Yoda from the movie Star Wars.

Ich habe sechs Katzen auf dem Gartenzaun gesehen.
I have six cats on the garden fence seen.

Sometimes English sentences require inverting the order so that the verb precedes the subject.
Today let’s discuss some situations where this is done.

1) Questions that start with the verb as the first word.
Are you going to order that replacement part, or should I?

2) Stating a hypothesis without using the word ‘if.’
Had I known it was going to rain this hard, I would have brought an umbrella.
In this case, you could also say: If I had known…, which follows the usual order.

3) When a negative or a restrictive phrase begins the sentence.
Seldom does she wear a skirt to work, as she often goes out to the field.
Not until next week will the contractor be ready to start commissioning.
Never before had he written such a long report.
Under no circumstances is anyone allowed inside the vessel without proper training.
Rarely does he forget to turn in his timesheet.
Only after marking the orientation on the core should you load the core into the sleeve.

One exception should be noted here:
If “perhaps” is used, then put the subject before the verb in the usual order.
Perhaps we should reperforate that zone.

4) When the sentence starts with an adjective.
Brown and crunchy was the grass after 15 straight days of temperatures above 100°F.

5) In exclamations beginning with “how.”
How industrious was that summer intern!

6) After quoted speech inversion is optional.
“We need you to find all the mud logs,” said Dave.
“We need you to find all the mud logs,” Dave said.
When the subject is a pronoun, only invert when writing fiction, not technical articles.
“Whither thou goest, I shall follow,” said he.
It just sounds more poetic.


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