I'm studying inversion and fronting in English and these two questions popped up in my head that I couldn't find an answer to.

  1. Should I use inversion when using neither...nor with imperatives?

Which one is grammatically correct?

a. Neither will you go there nor (will you) give her a call.

b. Neither go there nor call her.

  1. Is inversion grammatically compulsory when we use not only...but (also) structure? If yes, can we use it in spoken English I mean is it common in everyday conversation by native speakers to skip inversion here?

Are both of these sentences correct? I know 1 is correct I'm struggling with 2.

a. Not only are they noisy, but they're rude.

b. Not only they are noisy, but they're rude.


  • I think that "You will neither go there nor call her." would be the most common phrasing of your first sentence... Dropping the "you will" makes it less of a command, even if it's implied.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 16:37
  • Thank you though you actually rephrased the sentence. My question is about the grammaticality. Are you suggesting that the two sentences are not used and common and sound unnatural? Edit: I put the second "will you" within brackets.
    – Yuri
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 16:56
  • I didn't rephrase your sentence... I merely added "you will" before the B version... I think it's sort of opinion-y of where "option a" is common or not. I could certainly imagine someone from the 1800s saying it but I have a difficult time hearing it in modern English outside of someone who speaks extremely formally. Others may disagree... perhaps it's really common in BrE, for example.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 16:58
  • 2
    Imperatives use the plain form of the verb, so no inversion. So your example 1a is not imperative, but a directive. 1b is an imperative and is fine. Fronted "not only" triggers inversion, so your example 2a is correct, but not 2b. And yes, we would use inversion in everyday conversation
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


You don't use inversion with imperatives, because inversion involves changing the standard order of subject/verb to verb/subject. Imperatives don't have an explicit subject (although "you" is implied) so there's nothing to invert. So, example "b" is correct: "Neither go there nor call her."

In your second question, yes, you invert after "not only", so "a" is correct (Not only are they noisy, but they're rude.). The non-inverted example "b" sounds very strange to me.

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