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As far as I know, subject-verb inversion involves switching the sentence subject and the verb when another item has to occupy the first position of the sentence. The following is an example from the Wikipedia link:

Under her bed have been found remnants of marijuana consumption twice.

As we see in the example sentence, the verb phrase precedes the subject without changing its internal word order, namely, [have] + [been] + [found].

However, I have seen the following sentence in which the word order inside the verb phrase changed:

Also arrested were eight other suspects who allegedly worked secretly for ETA while maintaining the appearance of normal lives, Rubalcaba said at a nationally-televised news conference in Madrid.1

I expected that the word order should be: Also were arrested ....

I wonder which word order is grammatical in the above sentence.


1 Al Goodman, "Nine ETA Bombing Suspects Arrested." CNN.com, July 22, 2008

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  • The second sample is a construction often used in news stories. The first, though, is very odd. I could imagine "Remnants of marijuana consumption have been twice found under her bed," but the quoted version is just out of the ordinary. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 17:24
  • I'd say the first example is at the very least hopelessly non-idiomatic (it's so "jarring" to my ear I feel it's probably actually ungrammatical, but let's not go down that particular rabbit hole). But I'd also say I generally think of "subject-verb inversion" as being how we change a statement into a question (You are mad! = Are you mad?). You first example looks more like "fronting" the adverbial clause "under her bed", with the (passive) verb element "have been found" being dragged along for the ride. If the adverbial part wasn't there you couldn't do that in the first place. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 17:38

1 Answer 1

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THE VERB TO BE

Also were arrested = is not an inversion. And it is also agrammatical.

No inversion
Eight subjects were arrested.

Inversion
Also arrested were eight subjects.

ACTION VERBS
Inversion
Under her bed have been found remnants of marijuana consumption twice.

No inversion
Remnants of marijuana consumption have been found under her bed twice.**

When a verb has various parts (have been found), the parts are kept together.

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  • Thanks for your answer. However, I still wonder why the inverted form should not be "also were arrested eight ..." like the first example in which the main verb, "found", did not precede the auxiliary, "have been".
    – Later
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 10:27
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    I told you: also were arrested eight other suspects is not an inversion. An inversion is: Also arrested were eight other suspects. That is an inversion of: Eight other suspects were arrested.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 15:33
  • I already understood what you told. However, comparing the mentioned sentences "... have been found remnants of ..." and "also arrested were eight other suspects ...", we see two different forms of inversion; in the former the inner word order of the verb phrase did not change, but in the latter it changed, i.e., the main verb "arrested" preceded the auxiliary "were" while in the first sentence the main verb "found" followed the auxiliary "have been". I wonder why we see the two different forms of inversion.
    – Later
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 13:39
  • @Later No, there are not two inversions. There is only one possible inversion. This is not an inversion: Also were arrested. Eight subjects were arrested. INVERSION: Also arrested were eight subjects.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 21:18

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