I am a non-native English speaker and sometimes it is very hard to understand the way how inversion happens in sentences.

What inversion does happen with the first sentence below when through every window is moved to the beginning of the sentence? And is the inversion a matter of a must or choice?

Light is coming in through every window. I don't think I can sleep here.

Through every window ???. I don't think I can sleep here.

Couple of my guesses are below.

Through every window is light coming. I don't think I can sleep here.

Through every window is coming light. I don't think I can sleep here.

Any explanations will be appreciated. Thank you.

  • 4
    Preposing an adjunct like "through every window" does not trigger subject-auxiliary inversion, so "Through every window light is coming in" is right.
    – BillJ
    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:18
  • @BillJ I am so grateful that you got my point and gave me a comment. Thank you. Then, what are the cases like that trigger subject-auxiliary inversion? Can I ask you for some explanations about those? Dec 14, 2016 at 8:15
  • @BillJ Then, is there no way to do inversion in the sentence with "Through every window" preposed to the beginning? Are All of "Through every window is light coming in.", "Through every window is coming in the light." wrong? Jan 6, 2017 at 5:48
  • @BillJ But, as an example sentence that oppose your explanation, "Here comes the bus." is inverted sentence with an adverb preposed to the beginning of it. And in school, I might have been taught that "Here comes the bus." is wring and "Here the bus comes." is wrong. Would I ask you help me get out of this confusion? Jan 6, 2017 at 5:51
  • I’ll answer your 3 questions in order. Subject-auxiliary inversion occurs with questions, for example Have you done it?; Did you finish it?. It also occurs when certain elements are put in front position. Negatives are one very obvious type of element that trigger subject-auxiliary inversion when fronted, e.g., Never have I felt so alone the inversion is triggered by the negative word “never”. And in So bad was the pain that I fainted, and Only later did I realise my mistake, the fronting of “so bad” and “only later” have triggered the inversion.
    – BillJ
    Jan 6, 2017 at 10:45

1 Answer 1

Through every window, light is coming in.

When you are bothered about inversion, first identify the main idea/clause in the sentence in question.

In your case, the main idea is "Light is coming in". "Through every window" just adds more information to the main idea.

Then, put the secondary idea (or clause) in the beginning of the sentence with a comma at the end. That gives us the following :

Through every window,

As the final step, add the main clause or the main idea of the sentence to the above and don't forget the preposition!

Finally, we have the inverted sentence.

Through every window, light is coming in

Is this a must or a choice?

It is a choice.

If you want to make others feel that you are a student of literature, user inversion often ;)

  • Thank you very much for your sincere answer. If I may ask, is the comma there a must? Dec 14, 2016 at 8:17
  • 1
    Yes it is a must. Look here for some explanation. If you still find it confusing, do write a comment owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02 Dec 14, 2016 at 8:32
  • 1
    Putting an element before the subject of a clause when its basic position would be after the verb is called preposing, not inversion. In the OP's example, the phrase "through every window" has not been inverted, but simply preposed to the front of the clause before the verb instead of being in its normal position after the verb as in "Light is coming in through every window"
    – BillJ
    Dec 14, 2016 at 8:59

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