LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||30/NOV/2005 5:34 PM|
|Assunto:||May I invert the order like in Portuguese?|
English grammar is actually full of inversions, that is, sentences
where you place the verb before the subject, changing the regular
order. The most common inversions are:
- In questions, the auxiliar verbs (to be, to do, to have) or modal verbs (must, should, might, may, can, could, ought) are placed before the subject:
Should I stay here?
Have you been to Europe?
- When you are agreeing or disagreeing (so, nor, neither):
I don't like this song. - Neither do I.
- When you are making exclamations, you can use the question structure:
Isn't that a nice place to be!
- When you are making wishes (may):
May you have a wonderful time!
- "If clauses" (conditional clauses) may be written in a different way using inversion (formal):
If I were there, I would have tried to fix it. = Had I been there, I would have tried to fix it.
If he knew what she wanted, he'd never be with her. = Were he to know what she wanted, he'd never be with her.
- With some negative adverbial expressions, it's common to use inversions (formal). The adverb is usually placed at the beginning of the sentence. Some of these adverbs include: only, never, hardly, little, seldon, no sooner, not only, not until, rarely.
Never had I seen such a bad movie.
Seldon does my mother come to town.
Although the explanation above includes most of the inversions used frequently, a native English speaker may do other inversions naturally, just to emphasize a certain aspect of the sentence. It's hard for an English student to say where an inversion would fit.
Besides that, it's worth mentioning that the two last cases (where I wrote "formal") are rarely used today. In spoken English, unless you have a very special reason, you may want to stick to the regular subject-verb order. In formal writing, you may use it sometimes. These structures are more common in poetry. Just open a Shakespeare's novel and you'll see!
I hope that helps,
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