22 votes
Accepted

"few and far between" meaning

This sentence: In the desert, gas stations are few and far between. means that there are few gas stations in the desert, and there is a lot of space between any two gas stations. In other words, ...
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21 votes

Do I have to use “do” in any “wh-” question?

The rule is that Do support is called into play after a Wh-interrogative when subject/auxiliary inversion is called for and the verb is not headed by BE or an auxiliary. Consequently: You do not ...
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19 votes

“From one gift come many”: Why not “comes”?

What you have here is an ellipsis. The full sentence is: From one gift come many [gifts]. Gifts is plural, and so is the verb. It's not the one gift that comes; it's many gifts that come from it. ...
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  • 5,306
19 votes

Only then are you free?

Only is one of a set of generally negative polarity items which, if first in a clause, trigger inversion. (They don't have to stand first, but if they do, inversion is obligatory). Other examples are ...
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15 votes

difference between "came along" and "along came"

Flexible word order The difference is only that the words are in a different order. The grammar is the same. English actually has somewhat flexible word order, though we rarely exploit this in ...
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15 votes
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Is there always a "the" before a superlative adjective?

The noun superlative The the is there, two words ahead of the superlative adjective. Usually in English the adjective comes ahead of the noun, but in this sentence it comes after the noun. The is not ...
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12 votes

Grammatical usage of relative pronoun: "many people came who were interested in art"

The normal form of this sentence would be Many people who were interested in art came. But sentences like that can be hard to understand, because the long relative clause who were interested in ...
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10 votes

difference between "came along" and "along came"

When you say: John came along. It means John went with you (or others). John came along with us to the party. But when you say: Along came John. it means from your point of view, John ...
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10 votes

in his ears hammered still the harsh notes – how can ears hammer harsh notes?

The subject is the harsh notes of the mechanical piano. The verb is hammered and is intransitive, taking no object. ("Hammer" meaning "hit with force" can be transitive or intransitive.) The word ...
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10 votes
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"In whose symbolic shadow we stand today"

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. "In whose symbolic shadow we stand today" is a subordinate clause and ...
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9 votes

Sentence with "had there not" looks incomplete to me

This is an example of subject-auxiliary inversion. Subject-auxiliary inversion We use the past perfect in the if-clauses of conditionals when we want to talk about something hypothetical in the ...
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9 votes

'Not right away,' says I. - Why the third person singular?

This is very common in traditional oral narrative—you'll find it all over Twain, for instance, or any British or American folktale collection—and ‘The Ransom of Red Chief’ is presented not ...
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9 votes
Accepted

How to ask the following yes-no question?

The three that you think are "weird" are correct: Is the day after tomorrow the first day of school? Is she the chair of the department? Is this book yours? and much better than the ones you ...
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8 votes

Grammaticality of "Had I got the time"

Had I had the time is another way of saying it without "if". It is the inversion form of the third conditional, and it is a more formal way to say something. We can use the inversion form for all ...
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  • 3,546
8 votes

“From one gift come many”: Why not “comes”?

The rule involved is subject verb agreement. A plural subject requires a plural verb. The sentence in question makes identifying the subject a little tricky. "Gift" may appear to be the subject but,...
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8 votes

Sentence with "had there not" looks incomplete to me

The sentence is correct. Hypothetical clauses can be either introduced by if or written with an inversion of verb and subject: here are some simple examples and here is a more exhaustive rule Now, in ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Could you tell me whether this sentence is an inverted sentence?

This is not a matter of inversion but of what linguists call "pied-piping" vs "stranding". That is, the canonical declarative form which underlies your question is I can hang on to ...
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8 votes
Accepted

in his ears hammered still the harsh notes – how can ears hammer harsh notes?

The sentence uses inverted subject-verb order for poetic effect. If we rewrite the sentence in a more typical order, it should be clear: The harsh notes of the mechanical piano (S) still hammered (...
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8 votes

Using "Always" in inversion

___ does he come home before 11am for he does not want to hear his mother's complaint. Your teacher was right. Subject-auxiliary inversion occurs in declarative clauses only when certain types of ...
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  • 13.1k
8 votes

Only then are you free?

Not quite right - we would say then you are free, but only then is one of those expressions which require the subject and verb to be inverted. See this answer. I read the letter, and only then did I ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Why are the subject and the verb inverted after the conjunction 'as'?

The word as in your examples is a conjunction. It is used as a conjunction to express similarity. You can think of it (this as) as like, where like can be used as a more informal version of as. You ...
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  • 26.8k
7 votes

How to dissect/parse 'no sooner X than Y'?

It’s a figure of speech. It’s a slight exaggeration for emphasis. Let’s look at this example: They had no sooner eaten dinner than the ceiling crashed onto the dining table. That literally means: ...
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7 votes

There are vs are there

From Practical English Usage by Michael Swan - We can use nowhere at the beginning of the sentence for the purpose of emphasis, and then auxiliary verb will precede the subject. Example - ...
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7 votes

"I want to understand what my options are" or "I want to understand what are my options"?

"I want to understand what my options are" is fine and sounds more natural to me. This version: "I want to understand what are my options" really stands as two, so could be separated by a full stop, ...
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  • 233
7 votes
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Is "in he came" grammatical?

You absolutely can! It adds a nice storytelling or dramatical aspect to your words. I would recommend using this more in written language than spoken language, (since it has a literary/poetic feel to ...
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  • 7,546
7 votes

Is this type of sentence an Inversion?

These are not sentences but heavily reduced versions of much fuller clauses of the form [X SUBJ BE as] ADJ as SUBJ BE [X she is as] young as she is The construction SUBJ BE as ADJ as SUBJ ...
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7 votes
Accepted

"Not only are they not equally intelligent" ('Not only' with a negative context)

Double negatives In standard English it is perfectly possible to have two negative words in one sentence. This effectively gives the sentence a positive meaning: I didn't not do my homework. This ...
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6 votes

Do I have to use “do” in any “wh-” question?

Your questions without an auxiliary do are not correct: What did you say? (correct) What you said? (not correct) The second form is never correct. Note that it is correct as a relative clause: I ...
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  • 4,908
6 votes
Accepted

Why does "will" go before a noun in this sentence?

This putting of "will" before "Twitter" is an example of what is called "subject-auxiliary inversion", more specifically, "negative inversion". The word "Twitter" is the subject (the key "actor" in ...
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