A quote from Mel Robbins' book (The five second rule):

“Only through action have I unlocked the power inside of me to become the person that I have always wanted to be“

why did she say (have I unlocked) and not (I have unlocked) since it’s not a question?

PS: I am an ESL student.


1 Answer 1


We can use inversion in a statement for poetical, dramatic, or emphatic purposes, or to be very formal.

Never had I met someone so interesting (instead of 'I had never met someone so interesting').

Hardly ever have I eaten snake meat (instead of 'I have hardly ever eaten snake meat).

To invert a sentence move the adverbial to the beginning of the sentence and invert the subject and auxiliary verb.

Inversion (BBC Learning English)

  • The inversion is triggered by the negative nature of the adverb. "Never have I" "Seldom have I" or "Only through action (and nothing else) have I...". With positive adverbs you would not get this inversion "I have always" (not Always have I...) "I have often ..." etc.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 16:49
  • 1
    @JamesK - but able was I ere I saw Elba is often quoted as a palindrome (I am not putting this forward seriously!) Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 17:32

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