The other day I had to read a simple story and then summarize it briefly to my teacher. At one part I said something like:

The little boy was scared, so he ran where was Regina.

My teacher told me that I said it wrong, beacuse the listener will think that I'm asking where was Regina. Instead, it should be:

The little boy was scared, so he ran where Regina was.

But I don't think it's completely true. What draws my attention is that long ago, I asked this question on the Signal Processing site and wrote that:

Assuming E(f) constant (uniformely distributed over all frequencies), the noise should remain the same if I sample at the Nyquist frequency or at a higher one because are the anti aliasing filters what eliminate most of the noise of the spectrum by attenuating frequencies higher than the Nyquist frequencies, while the noise in the lower frequencies remains impossible to mitigate.

That's the same pattern, ‘are the anti-aliasing filters’ instead of ‘the anti-aliasing filters are’. I don't know if, at that moment, someone realized about that detail but that question wasn't edited by any user. So:

Is my caprice of starting a relative clause with an inversion considered substandard? Should I worry about and try to correct it? Is it common to see on everyday language, either oral or written? Will the natives bully me if I speak using that style?

  • 3
    Neither of your examples is at all correct. Both verbs belong in their typical positions. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 3:08
  • Also see english.stackexchange.com/questions/556484/…. It seems like it's important that there be something "concrete" before the inverted part: for example, while "he ran where was Regina" is wrong, you could say something like "he ran to the place where stood Regina." Do note that that example would never be used in conversation! Instead, it might be used in a written passage, for literary effect. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


You can use inversion for dramatic effect or add emphasis. But both of your sentences are devoid of this, and are incorrect usage of inversion.

For example following usages of inversion denote emphasis via negative expressions:

Under no circumstances can we let this happen. By no means is it easy to just forget everything after this. Never again shall I return to my home.

They are all starting a relative clause, but in doing so they do not adhere to common structures used in spoken or written form, so one must be careful.

"Is it common to see on everyday language, either oral or written?" No, we rarely use such emphatic expressions in writing and almost never in spoken form (may be during a play).

"Will the natives bully me if I speak using that style?", probably yes, but this entirely depends on who you approach, some may just correct you and move on. It is a better idea to not use formal tone in an informal setting. Nowadays using formal forms in formal occasions are also being abolished.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .