Today I saw on a TV the talk given by the president Trump. He said something like this:

"I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will."

I do understand the meaning of the sentence, but I do not understand the structure of its second part, namely the "attack we will" part.

Why "but attack we will" and not "but we will attack"? Thank you for the explanation.

  • 3
    This word order makes the word "will" stand on its own, instead of just being a helper verb that makes "attack" be in the future tense. This phrasing emphasizes the inevitability of the attacks, and that the "time and manner" of the attacks will be chosen by the United States.
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


"I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will."

This is a stylistic choice known as "fronting" and is done for emphasis or rhetorical effect. There is nothing wrong with it. The unusual phrasing draws the reader's attention.

"We will attack" would have been equally correct and acceptable, but most native speakers will find nothing grammatically objectionable about Trump's usage here.

There is an academic discussion of fronting here: http://eprints.ucm.es/12797/1/Laura_Caballero_Benito.pdf and a more readable overview here: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/about-words-clauses-and-sentences/fronting

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