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    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #1

    word order: exception to the rule

    We say:
    In any case you should. . . . This is the normal subject followed by predicate word order.

    but we say:
    In no case should you . . . . The position of subject and verb are reversed.

    This is also the case for sentences beginning with rarely, never, in no event, seldom etc.

    Seldom do I go there.
    but
    Often I forget his name.

    Can you tell me why? I was asked by a very advanced student and was completely stumped.https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/i...n_confused.gif

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    #2

    Re: word order: exception to the rule

    I think that the inversion places greater emphasis on what comes after it, which works with things like in no case/never, etc. There's no grammatical reason for it that I know of, so I think it's rhetorical- the word order forces the listener to pay more attention. The second reason I give when asked is that it makes examiners happy and more likely to give them a top grade; not a linguistic insight, I'm afraid, but it seems to help.

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    #3

    Re: word order: exception to the rule

    Some time ago I was interested in this issue, so I looked through several books. No one explained why, all wrote it is possible, mostly with a restrictive or negative sense (mostly!). Maybe your, Tdol, explanation is the best one that can be given! This is a next thing that hinders NNES using English!

    Best wishes,
    Nyggus

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    #4

    Re: word order: exception to the rule

    I think these are probably fossils -- old grammar structures which have mostly disappeared, but you still find them in certain phrases or idioms. The construction "under no circumstances should you..." is fairly common, but the other examples are usually reserved for poetic texts.

    This reflects older grammar rules which have mostly died out. Similar grammar rules still exist in modern German grammar, where students are often frustrated by the way in most affirmative sentences the finite verb is always the second item in the sentence, regardless of what the first item may be:

    Ich sah den Hund = I saw the dog
    Gestern sah ich den Hund = Yesterday, I saw the dog

    German and English have a common ancestor, but while German has kept many of its original rules regarding word order, English rules have changed dramatically.

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    #5

    Re: word order: exception to the rule

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    I think these are probably fossils -- old grammar structures which have mostly disappeared, but you still find them in certain phrases or idioms. The construction "under no circumstances should you..." is fairly common, but the other examples are usually reserved for poetic texts.
    Hi, Rewboss. I don't think it's reserved for poetic texts. Consider, for example, "Neither did it..." -- this is, as I suppose, another example of the rule. It is often used in academic writing; other examples of the structure are used there as well.

    Best,
    Nyggus


    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #6

    Re: word order: exception to the rule

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus
    Hi, Rewboss. I don't think it's reserved for poetic texts. Consider, for example, "Neither did it..." -- this is, as I suppose, another example of the rule. It is often used in academic writing; other examples of the structure are used there as well.
    Best,
    Nyggus
    I agree. It's quite common with a number of other adverbs or adverb phrases. And in fact the normal word order is unacceptable: In no case you should . . . . is clearly wrong, so it also seems it isn't purely for emphasis.
    I noticed the similarity to German and thought perhaps it was a holdover. It could be, I guess, but it's strange that in English it seems to be used only with negative modifiers.

    A friend mentioned that it could have to do with the placement of the negative. Maybe the answer is all of the above.

    It's been fun to read the responses. Thank you everyone -- I appreciate your help.
    Last edited by AELC; 20-Jul-2006 at 00:05.

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