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As we know, when a phrase containing a negation appears at the beginning of a sentence, subject-auxiliary inversion must occur. However, I have seen the following sentence examples violating the rule, but the similar ones comply with it. I wonder why this happens.

Example I

We can say

  • At no time will he have permission.

But we say

  • In no time he will have permission.

Example II

We can say

  • With no job is he happy.

But we can not say

  • *With no jacket did he go out in the cold.

1 Answer 1

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In no time he will have permission.

In this example we're not negating the main action. He will have permission. In fact, he will obtain it very quickly ("in no time"). We could also say "On Monday he will have permission" or "When he gets his boss's signature he will have permission," and there would similarly be no subject-verb inversion.

With no job is he happy.

We wouldn't say this.

We'd say either "He is happy not having a job" or "There is no job that makes him happy", depending what meaning we want to convey.

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  • Thanks for your answer. About the first example you are right; I was mistaken when I wrote it in the OP. About the second example I have seen it; I think it should not be wrong.
    – Later
    Jul 17, 2021 at 15:19
  • @Later, Jane Austen or Charles Dickens might have written that, but in the last century or so we haven't spoken that way.
    – The Photon
    Jul 17, 2021 at 22:04

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