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I've taken a grammar test on an online site, and I've got 3 choices to choose out of them the correct one:

A. At any time, was I informed

B. At no time, was I informed

C. At no time was informed I

I had no clue about the correct answer because all of them looked quite odd to me. Anyway, when I cheked the correct answer is B: "At no time, was I informed". Now, since non of them has a question mark at the end of the sentence, I'm really confused what kind of sentence it is, while the lexical verb (was) precedes the pronoun (I), which is typically happens in interrogative sentences. I'd love to get an explanation for that.

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    The comma should not be there; it is an error. Without the comma, Option B is a correct example of an inverted declarative sentence, as Chong Lip Phang says.
    – randomhead
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 1:49
  • Agreed, B with no comma is the only possibly correct one, AND for naturalness, the rest of the sentence should have been included, like "... that I had to check out by noon." In other words, this isn't a great site to be learning from because there's two problems with just this one question
    – gotube
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 2:29
  • This is the site (page) of which I took it from: englishtag.com/tests_with_answers/… Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 3:13

2 Answers 2

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As what @randomhead has said, the comma should not be there.

B. At no time was I informed.

was is an auxiliary verb, not a lexical one.

In this example, the subject and the auxiliary verb have been inverted.

Among other uses of subject–auxiliary inversion is the formation of sentences beginning with a negation, as in the following (b) examples from Wikipedia.

a. Sam will relax at no time. b. At no time will Sam relax. - Negative inversion a. Jim has never tried that. b. Never has Jim tried that. - Negative inversion a. He would do a keg stand at no party. b. At no party would he do a keg stand. - Negative inversion

When the phrase containing the negation appears in its canonical position to the right of the verb, standard subject-auxiliary word order obtains. When the phrase is fronted, however, as in the b-sentences, subject-auxiliary inversion, (negative inversion) must occur. [emphasis added]

On the comma matter mentioned earlier, the comma in your original example suggests that the preposition phrase At no time could be removed. This would lead to *was I informed, which would be incorrect.

Note: Removing phrases separated by bracketing commas should not affect much the rest of a sentence.

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It is called an inverted sentence, eg.:

-- Never was so much owed by so many to so few. -- Winston Churchill

-- Beautiful is the princess!

Such sentences are used for emphasis.

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