What is the difference between "What a good boy I am!" and "What a good boy am I!"?

These two exclamative sentences are different in the matter of Subject-auxiliary inversion.

What I want to know is the subtle meaning or pragmatic difference the two sentences bring to native speakers.

  • It's a sentence and not a question. And thus, "....I am."
    – Maulik V
    Jun 15, 2015 at 12:35
  • 4
    @MaulikV - What a good boy am I is a line from a famous nursery rhyme. (Of course, if Line 3 read "Eating his Christmas jam," this wouldn't be an issue.)
    – J.R.
    Jun 15, 2015 at 13:27
  • 1
    Rhyme and meter. Such a funny thing. From whence cometh words such as completer, in order a pretty song to... giraffe. Jun 15, 2015 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


When you're exclaiming a fact (in surprise), you are not asking a question. As such, we always use "sentence order"; that is: subject > verb.

What a good boy I am!

What a wonderful day it is!

How nice you are!

I have not been able to think of a single situation where we could ask a question using this "What a/an + noun phrase" or "How + adjective" style (though if someone were to come up with such an example, then I suppose question order (verb > subject) would be applied).

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