In the corner were corralled a few old desks.

Is it fine to put "were" in front? And why? please give more examples to me. Thank you!


In day-to-day English, this sentence would usually follow the pattern of subject–verb–object (SVO) to become

A few old desks were corralled in the corner.

However, your sentence (which is perfectly valid by the way) is an example of inversion, where the verb is placed before the subject.

Inversion is something we use every day when creating questions (are you hungry?), but in written English, it is a literary technique used for emphasis or special effect, and it makes a sentence sound striking or unusual.

In written English, as well as in a very formal style, inversion can be used in the following cases :

After negative adverbial expressions:

  • Under no circumstances can we accept credit cards.
  • In no way can he be held responsible.
  • At no time did she say she would come.
  • Not until I heard my name did I believe I had won the race.

After adverbial expressions of place:

  • Round the corner came the postman.
  • On the doorstep was a bunch of flowers.

After 'seldom', 'rarely', 'never', and 'little':

  • Seldom have I seen such a beautiful view.
  • Rarely did he pay anyone a compliment.
  • Never had I felt so happy.
  • Little did he imagine how dangerous it would be.

After 'hardly', 'scarcely', 'no sooner', when one thing happens after another.

  • Hardly had I begun to speak when I was interrupted.
  • Scarcely had we started our meal when the phone rang.
  • No sooner had I arrived than they all started to argue.

After adverbial expressions beginning with 'only' and 'not only':

  • Only after the meeting did I realize the importance of the subject.
  • Only when the plane landed safely did he calm down.
  • Not only was the car slow, it was also very uncomfortable.

After exclamations with 'here' and 'there':

  • Here comes the winner!
  • There goes all our money!

More information can be found here: http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/inversion.html

  • Hey! Thank you so much for giving such a detailed explaination! Thank you !!!!💖 – coco Dec 5 '16 at 5:11
  • Erm, that's not quite right. It's not that the verb has been placed before the Subject in the OP's example, it's that the locative complement and the subject have swapped places (subject-dependent inversion). Almost of your other examples show something very different - subject auxiliary inversion. This isn't what happens in the OP's sentence. If it was we would get "In the corner were a few old desks coralled", or "Were a few old desks corralled in the corner." depending on whether the locative complement was fronted before the SAI took place :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jan 25 '17 at 21:30

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