2

I am reading about C++ computer programming (Stroustrup's book - for the keens) and I have just met with this sentence.

Only when that is done do we have a class from which we can create objects.

It is quite straightforward I think and I understand it (I hope so). My problem is that I don't remember a sentence structure like this.

Could you please make things clear for me and make some other examples and / or alternatives to this using?

1 Answer 1

0

The sentence Only when that is done do we have a class from which we can create objects features one of the cases in which the subject and the verb are inverted in English.

Swan in Practical English Usage has a section with the title (Inversion) after negative and restrictive expressions (p280). He writes:

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. These structures are mostly rather formal.

  • Under no circumstances can we cash cheques.
  • At no time was the President aware of what was happening. ...

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.
...

  • Only then did I understand what she meant.
  • Only after her death was I able to appreciate her.
  • Not only did we lose our money, but we were nearly killed.

As non-inversion alternatives to your sentence you could write :

  • It is not until that is done that we have a class from which we can create objects.
  • We have a class from which we can create objects only after that is done.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .