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Sentence inversion

To emphasise a particular part of a sentence, or to make your writing more literary (such as in a poem or novel), you can invert the traditional order of a sentence. For example:

Standard order – He didn’t realise he had been tricked until the following day.
Inverted order – Not until the following day did he realise he had been tricked.

It is common to invert sentence using negative, ‘restrictive’ words such as those in the list below:

hardly ever Hardly ever had there been such a shortage of water.
never Never had the President had to make such a difficult decision.
little Little did she know time was running out.
scarcely ever Scarcely ever have they had to wait for anything.
only by Only by learning to type will he improve in his job.
under no circumstances Under no circumstances is the prisoner to have visitors.
only in this way Only in this way can we be sure to avoid repeating the problem in the future.
on no account On no account is John to be given any money.
scarcely Scarcely had they left the building when the bomb went off.
not only Not only had he broken the law but he was also unrepentant.
seldom Seldom have I seen such wealth.
nowhere Nowhere else is there such an abundance of natural resources.
not until Not until the following day did he realise he had been tricked.


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