Inversion of negative adverbials

Compare these three sentences:

  • Brazil will host the World Cup this summer and the Olympics in 2016.
  • Brazil will host the World Cup this summer as well as (hosting) the Olympics in 2016.
  • Not only will Brazil host the World Cup this summer but (it will) also (host) the Olympics in 2016.

The third sentence emphasizes the fact that Brazil will hold the two events. It is an example of inversion - adverbial + auxiliary + subject.



Compare the following sentences:
  • They don't make chocolate as good as this anywhere else.
  • Nowhere else do they make chocolate as good as this.

  • We didn't see him much.
  • We seldom saw him.
  • Seldom did we see him.

So you can see from the examples above that we use the auxilaries do/does for Present and did for Past.

They all transmit a negative meaning.

Most of the structures are quite formal and are therefore used more often in written form.




Not:

  • He speaks German, French and Chinese.
  • Not only does he speak German and French but he also speaks Chinese fluently.

  • She never smiled.
  • Not once did she smile.

  • I haven't had so much fun since I was at university.
  • Not since I was at university have I had such fun.

  • I will never go back to that restaurant.
  • Not in a million years will I go back to that restaurant.

  • I didn't take the exam until I was confident that I would pass.
  • Not until I was confident that I would pass did I  take the exam.

  • I wouldn't do a parachute jump even if you paid me.
  • Not even if you paid me would I do a parachute jump.


Only:

  • I am able to see the funny side now. I didn't before.
  • Only now am I able to see the funny side.

  • The only way to improve your English is by making an effort.
  • Only by making an effort can you improve your English.

  • I didn't realize who it was until you told me.
  • Only when you told me did I realize who it was.

  • The only way I will go to the party is if you go.
  • Only if you go to the party will I go.



No:

  • You must not touch these wires under any circumstances.
  • Under no circumstances must you touch these wires.

  • She never said she would come.
  • At no time did she say she would come.

  • We couldn't find a place to stay anywhere.
  • Nowhere could we find a place to stay.

  • I am not going to apologise for something I didn't do.
  • *No way am I going to apologise for something I didn't do.      *informal


We use the following adverbials when one thing happens after another:

  • As soon as I stepped outside, it started to rain.
  • No sooner had I stepped outside than it started to rain.

  • I had hardly began to give my speech when I was interrupted.
  • Hardly had I begun to give my speech when I was interruped.



We can use inversion after these negative adverbs:

  • I have never heard such a silly excuse.
  • Never have I heard such a silly excuse.

  • He hardly ever cries.
  • Hardly ever does he cry.

  • She rarely lost her temper.
  • Rarely did she lose her temper.



We use little when we are unaware that somehing would happen:

  • We had no idea that things would turn out the way they did.
  • Little did we know how things would turn out.



We can also use inversion with 3rd Conditional structures:

  • I didn't know my ex was going to the party.
  • If I had known my ex was going to the party, I wouldn't have gone.
  • Had I known my ex was going to the party, I wouldn't have gone.

  • The books were expensive so I only bought a couple.
  • If the books had been cheaper, I'd have bought more.
  • Had the books been cheaper, I'd have bought more.



Now write some examples of your own with the adverbials from above.







Comments

Montse said…
Hi Graham. I've read this post but it seems very dificult to me. I've never learnt about it so I'll try to read it again and do the exercise.
Roberto said…
Not only does he play the guitar,but he also plays the drums./Not even if you paid me a million of euros,would i eat spinachs./Only by eating a lot,can you grow up well./Only if you offer me apologies,will I forgive you./Hardly had I started to work,when I was phoned by my boss./Never have I did something like that in my life.
Graham said…
Roberto,

It's a tricky construction but you seem to be getting the hang of it even without having studied it.

spinach

Never have I done anything like that in my life.

Well done.