Inversion is the placing of words or whole phrases in the reverse of their usual order in a sentence. It can serve a grammatical or a rhetorical purpose.

Inversion is the placing of words or whole phrases in the reverse of their usual order in a sentence. Inversion can serve a grammatical role, such as making a sentence into a question, or a rhetorical role, such as emphasizing one of the inverted elements.

Grammatical uses of inversion

An example of inversion to make a statement into a question: “The restaurant is open” becomes “Is the restaurant open?”

An example of inversion to form the subjunctive mood: “Should he get hungry, a restaurant is nearby.”

An example of inversion with negation: “Never before has he eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant.”

Rhetorical uses of inversion

An example of inversion for emphasis: “To me she spoke.”

An example of inversion for grand style: “With songs and good wishes began the new year.”

Two examples of inversion for meter and rhyme:

Old King Cole was a merry old soul,

And a merry old soul was he.

He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl

And he called for his fiddlers three.

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