I have a nuclear family of five. In fact, I have two sisters and unfortunately no brothers. If I had at least one brother, the life would be more enjoyable.

Can I make an inversion in the bold part? Or I can do this only if I have 'were' in my conditional sentences?

For example:

Were I you, I would forgive him. (If I were you, I would forgive him.)

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    To say: Had I one brother..... sounds very theatrical. You might hear people saying: had I time or had I opportunity but this is to make a point. It's not everyday speech. By the way my life or life would be more enjoyable, not the life. – Ronald Sole Mar 5 '17 at 11:32
  • A minor correction: it should be "life would be more enjoyable", with no the, because we're talking about a general phenomenon. – stangdon Mar 5 '17 at 13:40

In present-day English, inverting the subject with should, were and had to express the sense of an if clause is still technically 'grammatical':

Should you find my book (= If you should find my book), please send it to me.
Were he running (= If he were running) he might win.
Had she gone (= If she had gone) to the interview she would have been hired.

Had and were may be inverted even when they are not used as auxiliaries:

Were he here (= If he were here), he could show us how to do it.
Had I a brother (= If I had a brother), life would be more enjoyable.

In practice, however, this construction is only found in very formal texts, or in the speech of people trying to sound formal; and even there it has a quaint, old-fashioned ring.

This is "school English": you need to be able to recognize its use in older texts, but there is no reason for you to use it in your own writing or speech.

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  • I almost understand nothing about your answer. It was not clear to me as I am an intermediate leaner.In the end, I don't know if we could use inversion in my question or not. – Mickey Mouse Mar 5 '17 at 12:00
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    @MickeyMouse I've rewritten -- is it clear now? It's grammatical, but very old-fashioned. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 5 '17 at 12:35
  • @MickeyMouse , StoneyB suggests that you can but you rarely should. "Had I at least one brother, life would be ..." is grammatical but usually formal. – Andrew Mar 5 '17 at 14:34
  • @StoneyB : Thanks for great explanation. I fully understand it. My English teacher told:" if we use this kind of structure in our essay, we will score high in IELTS exam." So, we only use 'had','were' and 'should'. If we have any other verb in our conditional sentences, we are not allowed to use 'inversion in conditional sentences". Am i right? For example, "If I lived in United Satetes, I woudn't need to get IELTS certification." – Mickey Mouse Mar 5 '17 at 20:42
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    @MickeyMouse That's right. "Lived I in the US" was OK two or three hundred years ago, but not today! – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 6 '17 at 1:49

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