I have recently learned about inversion. In all examples I have seen, a negative or limiting adverb takes place at the beginning of the sentence like this:

Seldom do I sleep early these days.

But can I also move the "seldom" to the middle of the sentence and say:

1 These days, seldom do I sleep early.

2 I used to sleep early, but seldom do I sleep early nowadays.

Or can we use them as dependent clauses:

3 This is a very rare creature that barely can you find.

  • 1
    Yes: you can. In all your examples, the negative word "seldom" triggers subject-auxiliary inversion. Note that in 1. we might more naturally say "I seldom sleep early these days"
    – BillJ
    Oct 15, 2022 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


Yes, the use of a negative or limiting adverb triggers Subject-Auxiliary Inversion (SAI). Such inversions can also follow other adverbs, particularly adverbs of frequency, degree, or method, even when used in a positive sense. Such inverted structures are often at the start of a sentence, particularity when forming questions, but can also be found in a later clause or otherwise not at the start of a sentence.

There are other forms of inversion as well, particularly Subject-Verb Inversion. See this ThoughtCo article for a discussion with a number of examples.

One should bre aware that inversion often produces a text with an old-fashioned, or even an archaic feeling. For example:

So shall I sleep easier in my grave. (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers "The King of the Golden Hall", Theoden speaking to Gandalf)

This can be a very useful device, and Tolkien in particular makes extensive use of it. But it can be disconcerting when not intended or not in sync with the surrounding text. The phrase "seldom do I sleep" used in the xamples in thre question has this effect to a limited degree.

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