As far as I know, this way of arranging a sentence is not present in common English, at least this particular example.

Then came they/them.

Are both sentences correct, considering that we are in a rather literary context? I wanted to give this statement a poetic/dramatic tone, so this turning of sentence elements came to my mind, instead of the flat "Then they came."

  • 3
    This particular "poetic inversion" isn't common with pronouns, but it's perfectly natural in many contexts with proper nouns. Especially with certain additional prepositions - for example, I waited two hours for the bus. Then along came three buses at once (as opposed to then three buses came along [all] at once - Subject+Verb rather than Verb+Subject). Oct 9, 2020 at 14:34

1 Answer 1


That style of English immediately reminds me of JRR Tolkein, but he himself was harking back to earlier times - I believe it was outmoded usage even then.

So, if this is in a literary or poetic context, you will probably be fine - it's perfectly understandable to a native speaker.

  • Thanks. I guess your answer refers to both cases, ie "they" and "them"?
    – Fra
    Oct 9, 2020 at 14:01
  • 1
    Actually, no, 'them' would be a bit too unusual, in my opinion.
    – MikeB
    Oct 9, 2020 at 14:02
  • 2
    Them is object case and cannot be used in this context. We wouldn't say Them came. Oct 9, 2020 at 14:18

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