Then the wolf was very angry indeed, and declared he would eat up the little pig, and that he would get down the chimney after him. When the little pig saw what he was about, he hung on the pot full of water, and made up a blazing fire, and, just as the wolf was coming down, took off the cover, and in fell the wolf; so the little pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happy ever afterwards.

This is from "The story of The Three Little Pigs" in English fairy tales.

I think "in fell the wolf" means "the wolf fell in the pot" but I don't know the usage of "in + a past tense of a verb" like "in fell". The usage like this is commonly used?


You are correct, this is just a different way to say "the wolf fell in [the pot]".

It is not a special structure with 'in' and verb past tenses, just a different arrangement of "fall in". It is informal/colloquial English.

You can do the same with other verbs indicating prepositions like 'go up' or 'run out':

"He let go of the balloon, and up it went."

"I open the front door, and out runs the cat."


This is more of an old-fashioned way of saying "the wolf fell in the pot". It's less of a "in + past tense of a verb" and more of mixing around where the prepositional phrase is.

Take this:

The wolf fell in the pot.

"In the pot" is the prepositional phrase. If you move it around, you get:

In the pot fell the wolf.

(This form is not common, but it still is grammatically correct.) If you remove a few words (as English-speakers tend to do for convenience), it becomes:

In fell the wolf.

And this is the sentence in that story!


You are correct. It is a common usage in story telling, particularly for children. It puts the emphasis on the direction of motion.

"The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out."

But it could also be used in conversation, for a comedic effect.

"I told Joe not to run next to the pool. It's slippery! Next thing you know, in falls Joe, and his mother goes into panic mode."


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