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As far as I have seen in the examples, inversion comes to emphasize something. In doing that such words like never, only, and ... are used.

Now is it correct to say:

"Mainly by the imagination does a discovery take place."

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I see nothing wrong with this. The result is exactly as you suggest, emphasizing "imagination" over "discovery".

I would suggest replacing "by the imagination" with either of the following:

  • "by one's imagination": This connects the concept of imagination with a person or other entity. "The imagination" gives the impression that imagination exists on its own. This form of the phrase would also be useful if attempting to stress to the reader or listener that you are referring to the imagination of that individual.
  • "via/through the imagination": This gives the impression that imagination is a path or conduit by which ideas travel. This form would be useful if the focus of your content is on the concept of imagination itself as opposed to the reader/listener or the discovery.
  • I'd also note that here, "chiefly" seems (to my ear) more fitting than "mainly", but "generally" is less. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 8 '15 at 23:06

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