ਸੈਸ਼ਨ 1

In this Masterclass, Dan's going to show you Inversion 1: After negative or limiting adverbs

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BBC Masterclass

Inversion 1: After Negative or Limiting Adverbs

Only here can you learn about Inversion. Watch Dan explain!

ਵੀਡੀਓ ਦੇਖੋ ਅਤੇ ਕੰਮ ਪੂਰਾ ਕਰੋ

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Dan

Under no circumstances should you stop watching this video! Only here will you get the full inversion explanation. Are you ready? Let’s invert!
Inversion happens in English for emphasis, dramatic purpose or formality. In order to invert, the normal sentence order of subject verb object is changed in some way. Let’s find out how. Go!

‘Never had I met someone so interesting.’

Now English has a group of adverbs which limit the meaning of a verb or make it negative. Examples are never, hardly, no, only...and there are others. In order to change normal sentence order, we move the negative adverbial to the beginning of the sentence and we invert the auxiliary verb and subject. So:

‘I had never met someone so interesting.’
becomes
‘Never had I met someone so interesting.’

In cases where the tense does not use an auxiliary verb in the affirmative, such as the present simple or the past simple, one must be added. So, for example:

‘I rarely go outside.’

becomes
‘Rarely do I go outside.’
And
‘She seldom worked very hard.’
becomes
‘Seldom did she work very hard.’

However, there is another level to this. Some negative or limiting adverbials require you to complete a whole clause before the inversion takes place. It’s kind of a two stage process. So, for example:

‘I didn’t know what to do until I saw what had happened.’
becomes
‘Not until I saw what had happened did I know what to do.’

In this case, ‘Not until I saw what happened’ is the adverbial clause. The inversion takes place after this, in the main clause. And this is common with adverbs like ‘Not’ and ‘Only’ in the following combinations:

‘Hardly’ works like this too, but in the case of hardly, the inversion happens within the adverbial clause. It is mostly used with the past perfect to signify that one action finished just before another started. And notice the use of the connecting time words ‘than’ and ‘when’ in the examples. Are you ready?

‘Hardly had I got home than the dog started barking.’
‘Hardly had he got into the bath when the phone rang.’

Isn’t it typical? Finally, we can use the expression ‘little did they know’ to mean…wait for it…they didn’t know. It’s extremely dramatic and it’s often found within books. It can be quite sinister! For example:

‘Little did they know that he had stolen all of their money.’

Did you get it? Of course you got it! Now, for more information please log on to our website at bbclearningenglish.com. I’ve been Dan, you’ve been fantastic and I’ll see you next time, ok? Let’s invert! 

Summary

Inversion happens in English for emphasis, dramatic purpose or formality. This type of inversion uses negative and limiting adverbs - these are a group of adverbs which limit the meaning of a verb or make it negative. Examples are never, hardly, no, only...and there are others (see grammar page for more details)

To invert a sentence move the adverbial to the beginning of the sentence and invert the subject and auxiliary verb:

I had never met someone so interesting.’ becomes ‘Never had I met someone so interesting.’
'He won't often go to work.' becomes 'Not often will he go to work'

Notice that if the auxiliary verb is negative in the first sentence, it becomes affirmative in the inverted sentence and the 'not' moves to the front.

In cases where the tense does not use an auxiliary verb in the affirmative, such as the present simple or the past simple, one must be added

Present Simple:
‘I rarely go outside.’  becomes  ‘Rarely do I go outside.’
'They don't ever know what to dobecomes 'Never do they know what to do.'

Past Simple: (Notice how the verb changes from past tense to infinitive)
‘She seldom worked very hard.’ becomes ‘Seldom did she work very hard.’
'We never went 
to the shopping centre.' becomes 'At no time did we go to the shopping centre.'

Some negative or limiting adverbials require you to complete a whole clause before the inversion takes place

‘I didn’t know what to do until I saw what had happened.’ becomes ‘Not until I saw what had happened did I know what to do.’

In this case, ‘Not until I saw what happened’ is the adverbial clause. The inversion takes place after this, in the main clause

'Hardly' puts the inversion in the adverbial clause. It uses 'than' and 'when' to connect with the main clause.

‘Hardly had I got home
than the dog started barking.’
'Hardly had he got into the bath when the phone rang.’

Little did they know means they didn't know. The subject can be changed.

‘Little did they know that he had stolen all of their money.’ (They didn't know he had stolen all of their money)
'Little did he know that they would never meet again.' (He didn't know that they would never meet again.)

Test your knowledge of Inversion: After Negative or Limiting Adverbs

7 Questions

Are these examples of inversion correct or incorrect?

ਵਧਾਈ ਹੋਵੇ ਤੁਸੀਂ ਕੁਇਜ਼ ਪੂਰਾ ਕਰ ਲਿਆ
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਹਾਸਲ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਅੰਕ:
x / y

End of Session

That wraps up this week’s Masterclass. We hope that this has been useful and wish you all the best in your studies!

Next, join us for News Review, where you can gain language from the latest stories and how to use it in your everyday English.

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  • Summary

    Inversion happens in English for emphasis, dramatic purpose or formality. 
    To invert a sentence move the adverbial to the beginning of the sentence and invert the subject and auxiliary verb:

    I had never met someone so interesting.’ becomes ‘Never had I met someone so interesting.’

    Where the tense does not use an auxiliary verb,
     one must be added

    ‘I rarely go outside.’  becomes  ‘Rarely do I go outside.’
    ‘She seldom worked very hard.’ becomes ‘Seldom did she work very hard.’

    Some negative or limiting adverbials require you to complete a whole clause before the inversion takes place

    ‘I didn’t know what to do until I saw what had happened.’ becomes ‘Not until I saw what had happened did I know what to do.’

    'Hardly' puts the inversion in the adverbial clause. It uses 'than' and 'when' to connect with the main clause.
    ‘Hardly had I got home than the dog started barking.’

    Little did they know means they didn't know. 
    ‘Little did they know that he had stolen all of their money.’