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Inversiones en inglés

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Inversiones en inglés

Inversiones en inglés, ¿qué son, cuándo y cómo se hacen? Let’s see.

There are some words and phrases that function as adverbials that sometimes need an inversion. Look at these two sentences.

Bob rarely speaks to himself.

Rarely does Bob speak to himself.

 The adverb here is “rarely”. If it comes after the subject, there is no inversion (as in the first sentence), but if it comes before the subject, we need an inversion. The word order is inverted and in the case of the sentence about Bob we use the auxiliary verb “does” in the same way we do in questions (although this isn’t a question).

The sentence with the inversion sounds more formal or more literary, and sentences like this are less common in ordinary conversation.

Here are some examples with other phrases used in the same way.

Seldom does Bob get invited to parties. (seldom = rarely)
Never have we seen such a breathtaking view.
At no time did the prisoner look as if he might confess.
Not only is she a great dancer but she is also an amazing mathematician.
Not until she took up rock climbing did she overcome her fear of heights.
Under no circumstances* will prisoners be allowed to give interviews to the media.
Little** did she realize that her grandmother was really a wolf.

* This is used to describe rules for which there are no exceptions. The alternative without the inversion is: Prisoners will not be allowed to give interviews to the media under any circumstances.

** This means that the girl didn’t realize at all that her grandmother was really a wolf.

  • Remember that no inversion is possible if the adverbial doesn’t come before the  subject. Compare the following sentences with the corresponding sentences above.

She is not only a great dancer but she is also an amazing mathematician.
It was not until Effie left Brooklyn that she realized how attached she had become to the
place.

 

The following three are used to describe an event that happened immediately after another.

Hardly had he stepped outside when it started to rain.
Scarcely had he stepped outside when it started to rain.
No sooner had he stepped outside than it started to rain.

Note that the past perfect tense is used to describe the event that happened first.

MORE EXAMPLES:

Never have I encountered such rudeness! (extract from a letter of complaint about the service in a restaurant)

Not only is Amanda Swift a gifted musician, but she is also good-natured and responsible. (extract from a covering letter)

No sooner had he locked the door than the phone started ringing.

Only when the last person had left did she sit down and try to relax.

Under no circumstances can you inform the staff about the imminent changes.

Not a sound could be heard in the church.

Little does Michael suspect that his daughter has been failing all her subjects at school!

EXERCISES

1)

1. (Never/I/meet) _____________________such well-behaved children before. They are as good as gold.
2. (No sooner/my father/sit down) _____________________ 
to dinner than there was a knock on the door.
3. (Little/he/know) _____________________ 
that his culinary skills are quite substandard.
4. (At no time/ I/ mean) _____________________ 
to hurt your feelings. It was all a big misunderstanding.
5. (Seldom/we/ have) _____________________ 
friends over for a drink. We prefer to meet them at pubs or restaurants.
6. (Not only/he/make) _____________________ 
a mean cheesecake, but he also prepares homemade jam.
7. Only when the situation gets out of hand _____________________ 
(the government/ begin) to act
8. Not until June _____________________ 
(you/can /get) all the swimming gear out of the drawers.
9. (Only once/ I/climb) _____________________ 
such a high mountain before.
10. Her eyes were very red. (only later/I/find out) _____________________ 
that her fiancé had broken up with her.

KEYS:

1. (Never/I/meet) _Never have I met______such well-behaved children before. They are as good as gold.
2. (No sooner/my father/sit down) __No sooner had my father sat down______ 
to dinner than there was a knock on the door.
3. (Little/he/know) __Little did I know________ 
that his culinary skills are quite substandard.
4. (At no time/ I/ mean) __At no time did I mean_______ 
to hurt your feelings. It was all a big misunderstanding.
5. (Seldom/we/ have) __Seldom do we have_______ 
friends over for a drink. We prefer to meet them at pubs or restaurants.
6. (Not only/he/make) __Not only does he make________ 
a mean cheesecake, but he also prepares homemade jam.
7. Only when the situation gets out of hand __does the government begin_______ 
(the government/ begin) to act
8. Not until June __can you get_________ 
(you/can /get) all the swimming gear out of the drawers.
9. (Only once/ I/climb) ___Only once have I climbed_______ 
such a high mountain before.
10. Her eyes were very red. (only later/I/find out) ___Only later did I find out________ 
that her fiancé had broken up with her.

 

2)

1. You are not going to get me to eat that! (No way … !)

____________________________________________________________

 

2. I have seldom seen such a brilliant goal. (Seldom …)

____________________________________________________________

 

3. Such a hurricane has rarely happened in Hereford. (Hardly ever …)

____________________________________________________________

 

4. This must not leak out to the press. (Under …)

____________________________________________________________

 

5. He wasn’t rich and he wasn’t handsome. (Neither …)

____________________________________________________________

 

6. We haven’t often witnessed such artistry. (Rarely …)

____________________________________________________________

 

7. The bridge collapsed as soon as we managed to get across. (No sooner …)

____________________________________________________________

 

8. The bell had barely started to ring when the children rushed out of the classroom. (Scarcely)

____________________________________________________________

 

9. We have never been so well wined and dined in our lives. (Never …)

____________________________________________________________

 

10. We had barely entered the shop when an assistant jumped on us. (Hardly … when …)

____________________________________________________________

11. He is both charming and very rich. (Not only …, but … also …)

____________________________________________________________

 

KEYS:

1. You are not going to get me to eat that! (No way … !)

__No way are you going to get me to eat that!______________________

 

2. I have seldom seen such a brilliant goal. (Seldom …)

__Seldom have I seen such a brilliant goal.________________________

 

3. Such a hurricane has rarely happened in Hereford. (Hardly ever …)

__Hardly ever has such a hurricane happened in Hereford.  ___________

 

4. This must not leak out to the press. (Under …)

___Under no circumstances must this leak out to the press. __________

 

5. He wasn’t rich and he wasn’t handsome. (Neither …)

__Neither was he rich or handsome. _____________________________

 

6. We haven’t often witnessed such artistry. (Rarely …)

__Rarely have we witnessed such artistry. _____________________

 

7. The bridge collapsed as soon as we managed to get across. (No sooner …)

__No sooner had we managed to get across than the bridge collapsed. ___________

 

8. The bell had barely started to ring when the children rushed out of the classroom. (Scarcely)

__Scarcely had the bell started to ring when the children rushed out of the classroom. ___________

 

9. We have never been so well wined and dined in our lives. (Never …)

__Never have we been so well wined and dined in our lives. _______________

 

10. We had barely entered the shop when an assistant jumped on us. (Hardly … when …)

___Hardly had we entered the shop when an assistant jumped on us. _____________

 

11. He is both charming and very rich. (Not only …, but … also …)

__Not only is he charming but he is also very rich. __________________________

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