Inversions (Part 1)

Hello everyone!

Today we’re going to talk about inversions.

What is an inversion and when can we use it?There are many different structures with which we reverse the sentence order and these may follow different patterns. Today we are going to focus on negative frequency adverbs and ‘Not only (…) but also’ and in our next post we’ll take a look at inversion in Conditional sentences and other structures.

In English, sentences usually follow this structure:

Subject + (adverb) + verb + object/complements

For example: ‘I never go to the gym’

However, there are times when this order is altered.


‘I never go to the gym’


‘Never do I go to the gym’

As you can see, the second sentence follows the structure:

Negative frequency adverb + auxiliary + subject +  verb

We usually reverse the order of a sentence (do an inversion) to emphasise the first word in the sentence, in this case the fact that I NEVER go to the gym

One of the most common inversions at FC level is ‘Not only (…) but also’and we use it to emphasise more than one thing.


‘I study English and French’


‘Not only do I study English, but also French’


The structure of the inverted sentence follows the word order of interrogative forms:

‘I have never been to Paris’


‘Never have I been to Paris’

‘I hardly ever eat junk food’


‘Hardly ever do I eat junk food’

I practice yoga and pilates’


‘Not only do I practise yoga, but also pilates’*

*Notice how in the structure ‘Not only (…) but also’ the inversion only takes place at the beginning of the sentence.

Shall we get some practice?

Complete the second sentence:

1.I rarely buy tomatoes because I don’t like them


2. I went to the supermarket and I bought pears and bananas

Not only….

3. It’s the first time that Susan and James go skiing


4. Laura will never tell you the truth


5. Peter doesn’t like running and he’s not too keen on swimming either.

Not only…

Give these sentences a try and don’t forget to check the answers in our next post!

Happy March! 🙂

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