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Inversions // when do I need to use it?

Manuel Fuchs

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Manuel,

In the case below the sentence 'only yesterday I did hear the news' doesn't work. It would be 'only yesterday I heard the news'.

'Only yesterday did I hear the news' is a somewhat poetic or type of sentence which is found in literature. It is a little 'flowery' or 'pretty'. On the street we don't speak like this.

I am not sure but I believe this isn't an inversion. I believe this is a way of using the auxiliary verb 'to do' to improve the sound or tone of the sentence. In English, the auxiliary verb 'to do' can change the tone in other sentences e.g. I did eat the dinner. Here the auxiliary verb intensifies the action.

I hope this helps. All the best.


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I agree with Mark, the sentence is correct but is more poetic than it needs to be. Sometimes phrases like that are colloquialisms, having been handed down from our native English ancestors. To put it simply, if it is a phrase our mom liked, we may have inadvertently incorporated into our daily speech as a learned behavior.

Depending on the education of our parents, some language may be elevated in a poetic or flowery way, while in other geographic locations, the language may be simplified... "She is not coming with." for example is an incomplete sentence, but we all understand and accept it means she is not coming with us, you or whatever.

Some say the English language is being butchered, I would argue it is being simplified.

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That kind of an inversion seems to be very experimental- almost like the way Shakespeare played with sentence structure. I would think focusing on an oddball phrasing like that would confuse your understanding of the language. I don't mean for that to sound condescending at all though. In fact, i think there's a lot of native English speakers who don't understand how tricky the grammar is in cases like that, and they take it for granted. So you're one step ahead of them as far as having a real understanding of the language.

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