Source Anna Karenina

  • ... and only when he had come close to her did she turn her face toward him.

-initially, I thought that is a question, but I didn't find a question mark. So what "did" has to do with the text.

Furthermore, the writer, I think, could have written the sentence in this way: ...to her she turned... "without inserting (did)"

What is the explanation for this case?

1 Answer 1


It's called inversion. If a negative adverb or adverbial expression is put at the beginning of a clause for emphasis, it is usually followed by auxiliary verb + subject. Inversion is also used after restrictive words like hardly (in BrE), seldom, rarely, little and never , and after only + time expression . This is formal or literary.

Under no circumstances can we cash cheques. At no time was the President aware of what was happening. Not until much later did she learn who her real father was. Only then did I understand what she meant. Only after her death was I able to appreciate her.

M.Swan PEU

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