1) Only Larry sleeps under that tree. - a standard word order

The right way to rebuild this sentence using the inversion would be

2) Under that tree sleeps only Larry.

Now I wonder whether this one is also acceptable?

3) Under that tree only Larry sleeps.

Is 3 also an acceptable inversion or is it wrong?

  • the tricky word only is followed by Larry in all three sentences. Emphasizing the word only in any of those ways will convey the same meaning. – Maulik V Aug 4 '14 at 11:00
  • 1
    ...actually the stress is on Larry, not on only. – CocoPop Aug 4 '14 at 13:36

(1) is the most common word order.

(2) is comprehensible, but clumsy.

(3) is an improvement on (2).

Note that there is a context for (2), however, in a narrative register often seen in stories:

In that castle lived an evil king.

On that day began an adventure that would take him to the ends of the earth.

  • So, you mean that 3 is acceptable for colloquial English, don't you? – user1425 Aug 4 '14 at 13:44
  • Yes, but only if you're emphasizing the location "under that tree" and I would use a comma to make it clear: Under that tree, only Larry sleeps. Additionally you could italicize Larry to make it even clearer. – CocoPop Aug 4 '14 at 13:48

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