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Thread: Inversion

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    #1

    Inversion

    Dear Sir/Madam
    My question is about inversion after expressions such as "only later," ecc. Is it mandatory to do it?
    And in particular I would like to know if this sentence is correct: "Only later should be discussed her fears about the souls of aborted babies".
    This sentence appears in a short story by Peter Carey, but it just doesn't sound right to me, maybe he did it on purpose to obtain a certain effect. Shouldn't it be something along the lines of "Only later should her fears about the souls of aborted babies be discussed"? Or without the inversion "Only later her fears about the souls of aborted babies should be discussed." The original sentence sounds off to me, but maybe I'm wrong. Could you help me out?
    Yours,
    Maicol

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    #2

    Re: Inversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Seve14 View Post
    My question is about inversion after expressions such as "only later," ecc. Is it mandatory to do it?
    https://www.grammaring.com/only-afte...-etc-not-until
    When only after, only if, only in this way etc. are placed at the beginning of the sentence for rhetorical effect, the subject and auxiliary are inverted.
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    #3

    Re: Inversion

    Welcome back, Seve14, after your four-year-eight-month break!

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    #4

    Re: Inversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Seve14 View Post
    My question is about inversion after expressions such as "only later," ecc. Is it mandatory to do it?
    Only later should her fears about the souls of aborted babies be discussed.

    As you suggest, subject-auxiliary inversion is normal here.

    Inversion occurs in declarative clauses only when certain types of element are put in front position. Negatives are one very obvious type of element that trigger subject-auxiliary inversion when fronted: Never had I seen such chaos / At no stage were they in danger.

    "Only" is not negative, but it is semantically close to a negative, in that, for example, Only John liked it entails No one other than John liked it. The inversion is also found with some items that are not similar to negatives:

    John enjoyed it and so did Robert.
    Last edited by PaulMatthews; 10-Dec-2019 at 17:50. Reason: punctuation error

  5. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Inversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Seve14 View Post
    Or without the inversion "Only later her fears about the souls of aborted babies should be discussed."
    Without inversion, I think it should be "Her fears about the souls of aborted babies should only be discussed later".

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMatthews View Post
    The inversion is also found with some items that are not similar to negatives:
    The inversion is also found with adverbial prepositional phrases of place like this one: https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...=1#post1551719
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    #6

    Re: Inversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    The inversion is also found with adverbial prepositional phrases of place like this one: https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...=1#post1551719
    That's a different construction altogether, called 'subject-dependent inversion', not subject-auxiliary inversion.

    In the example "Under the table is a book", the preposition phrase "under the table" is a locative complement, not an adjunct (your 'adverbial'). It's a complement because its omission would render the sentence ungrammatical. Note that grammatically obligatory items are always complements.

    That particular sentence contains preposing of a PP (the dependent) and postposing of the subject NP.

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    #7

    Re: Inversion

    It does sound a bit odd with that word order, yes.

    And yes, Peter Carey is doing it to obtain a certain effect, as writers do.

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