For example, I have this phrase:

The dogs bark.

Can I use this intead:

Bark, the dogs.

Is this switch of the verb place used (in poetry for example) or comprehensible?

Thanks :)

  • 1
    Poetry or song lyrics, and usually followed by an exclamation mark (as the reversal is done for emphasis). Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


I might understand this as a strange transitive use of the word bark, meaning "Make the dog bark"

I could understand this in poetry as two incomplete sentences, an interjection, and a noun. The interjection is "Bark!" and the noun is "The dogs".

It sort of works as a "stream of consciousness". In this style the author tries to express everything that goes through a character's head as they think and respond to their environment. Here the character hears a bark and so "Bark!" goes through his brain. Then he thinks of "the dogs", but his thought process doesn't get as far as forming a sentence.

There can be pure inversions as "Barks the dog". But these are particularly unusual. Unlike (for example) Latin, where the order is mostly a matter of style. In English the order is important for meaning, and changing the order has a big impact. As English learners, people will assume you just made a mistake and then won't allow the "poetic licence" that they might give to a native speaker.

Very careful about inversion you need to be!

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