I am a newbie at this forum. Recently I found a sentence exactly as below:

On the bottom of the MetroCard are three arrows and little white letters that say "Insert this way/This side facing you."

This sentence is correct, but I do not understand why.

I thought an object of preposition can never be a subject. The object of preposition in the sentence is on the bottom of the MetroCard.

I thought if we add "there" just after the object of preposition above, the sentence would be correct.

May I know some grammar rules regarding this?


2 Answers 2


The sentence you have presented seems to have inversion.
The inversion is a phenomenon when we have the predicate in front of the subject in a certain phrase. And the predicate itself could be preceded with an adverb of time, or an adverbial of place etc.
In your case you have "On the bottom of the MetroCard" as an adverbial of place, "are" as predicate and "three arrows and little white letters" as a compound subject. The whole sentence has the inversion and is totally correct grammatically. I think it may be a part of a literary work, such as a novel.
If you want more info, you could read this: http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/inversion.html (Your case is under number 3.)

  • Hi Alex. Regards, thanks for your answer and especially the reference. From your post I presume that 'On the bottom of the MetroCard looks neat' would be an incorrect sentence, because 'neat' is an adjective, it is not a subject. So even if the structure is Verb + Subject, in that order, it is a clause. Thanks.
    – Redsbefall
    Mar 24, 2017 at 12:59
  • @Arief.an That's not exactly right, Alex. A predicate by definition includes the verb, but it is only the locative complement "on the bottom of the MetroCard" that has been preposed. Also the preposed element is a complement, not an adverbial. Adverbials are always optional elements, whereas obligatory items are always complements, which is what the locative expression is here, since it is needed to complete the verb phrase.
    – BillJ
    Mar 24, 2017 at 13:33

[On the bottom of the MetroCard] are three arrows and little white letters that say "Insert this way/This side facing you.

This is an example of “subject-dependent inversion”, where the subject NP “Three little arrows …” and the locative complement PP in brackets are inverted. The basic order would be:

Three arrows and little white letters that say "Insert this way/This side facing you are [on the bottom of the Metrocard].

As you can see, the locative “there” is not required to make sense of it all.

  • Hi Bill. Regards, thanks for your answer. The object of preposition 'On the bottom of the MetroCard' acts as an object in the original sentence, but i did not know this before, and now i know that a clause can be in V + S order. If i add 'there', which will be the subject, the object of preposition would act as an adjective of the object 'three arrows .... '. What does NP and PP stand for in your answer..? Thanks.
    – Redsbefall
    Mar 24, 2017 at 13:54
  • @Arief.an NP stands for noun phrase, and PP stands for preposition phrase.
    – BillJ
    Mar 24, 2017 at 14:42

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