FR: inversion sujet-verbe après certains adverbes (ensuite, sans doute, peut-être, aussi, ainsi, alors, etc.)

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by whoisal, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. whoisal Junior Member

    New York City
    English, USA
    Chers tous,

    In a passage about 17th century painting in Europe, I found this sentence:

    "Ensuite viennent les portraits d'individus moins remarquables, les paysages, et les nature mortes."

    Could anyone please explain why the verb comes before the subject?

    Merci beacoup

    Moderator note: Multiple threads have been merged to create this one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  2. Peter&Steven Senior Member

    Lyon, France
    France, Français
    This is because of "ensuite" at the beginning of the sentence.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  3. whoisal Junior Member

    New York City
    English, USA
    Why can't you say "Ensuite, les portraits d'individus...viennent"?
     
  4. Peter&Steven Senior Member

    Lyon, France
    France, Français
    hard to explain... from my point of view (but Maitre Capello may have a more formal explanation), here your subject is very long "les portraits d'individus moins remarquables, les paysages, et les natures mortes" so it's not very "beautiful" to have the verb after this long subject... on the contrary, you would have "Ensuite, vous pouvez voir les portraits...." or "les portraits d'individus moins remarquables, les paysages, et les natures mortes viennent ensuite"
     
  5. yannalan Senior Member

    france, french, breton
    That is a literay form, it would not be used in colloquial french, but grammatically it is quite correct. That's written french
     
  6. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    I wouldn't say it's literary… Also this inversion is not due to the length of the subject as we would also say Viennent ensuite les natures mortes (without any other item). For some reason this is the syntax we're using in the middle of an enumeration or rather an ordered list of items: Vous avez d'abord les paysages et les natures mortes. Ensuite viennent (= Viennent ensuite) les portraits.

    Maybe the explanation for this inversion is that the reader will know right away you're continuing the enumeration. (If you don't have that inversion viennent ensuite has to be at the end of the sentence…)
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  7. Peter&Steven Senior Member

    Lyon, France
    France, Français
    I agree with you but I find it really hard to explain...
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  8. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Whoisal, we do the same thing in English! :)

    Usually we would say, "The portraits come next." But it is also possible to say, "Next come the portraits."

    In French like in English, there is nothing "incorrect" about the normal order with subject + verb. But in French, this inverted structure is perhaps preferred.
     
  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The inverted verb-subject syntax is relatively common with intransitive verbs, and it looks and sounds more elegant than the standard SV syntax, although both are correct. It may also be used to break the monotony in a text.
     
  10. verbivore Senior Member

    USA, English
    Pourquoi est-ce qu'il y a de l'inversion ici, et est-ce qu'il y a une règle dont on peut se servir en ce cas ?

    Sans doute est-elle célèbre sur son propre campus, car les têtes se retournent sur elle...

    Merci
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  11. bloomiegirl

    bloomiegirl Senior Member

    New York
    US English
    Sans doute est-elle is fairly the equivalent of Sans doute qu'elle est...

    Sans doute is followed by inversion of subject and verb or by que plus subject/verb. See http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa110601.htm (or Google "sans doute" + inversion).

    Why? I dunno. Just is.

    Note: It's sans doute (to correct your typo).
     
  12. Benoît abroad

    Benoît abroad Senior Member

    East of Belgium
    Français, France
    Bonjour,

    Je pense que la phrase commence par "sans doute" de manière à insister sur le manque de certitude.
     
  13. danthaman07 Senior Member

    Spanish+English
    je voulais savoir si ainsi plus l'inversion est bien appliquee dans cette phrase.

    Merci d'avance.

    Ce texte nous apprend que la « profonde unité » est essentielle pour dissiper les « ténèbres » obscurcissant l’esprit des hommes, ainsi laisse-t-on la lumière infiltrer leur âmes « corrompus. »
     
  14. itka Senior Member

    France
    français
    :thumbsup: Très bien !
     
  15. Mama Caraïbo New Member

    Türkçe
    Hi,

    I'd like to know if it is always a must to change the order of the personal pronouns with the following words;

    -peut-être
    -aussi
    -sans doute
    -ainsi
    -à peine...

    Ex:

    Il plevait. Aussi ont-ils décidé de prendre leurs parapluies.
    Peut-être a-t-il raté l'avion, ne vous inquiétez pas.

    Are there also any other words needing being used in that way ?

    Thanks in advanced.
     
  16. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Whenever these adverbs are at the beginning of a clause, the verb of that clause usually comes before the subject pronoun. This is still true when the subject isn't a pronoun, in which case, the actual subject comes first and is repeated with the corresponding pronoun. Anyway, the non-inversion remains always possible but it sounds a bit colloquial

    Il pleuvait, aussi ont-ils décidé de prendre leurs parapluies.
    Il pleuvait, aussi mes amis ont-ils décidé de prendre leurs parapluies.
    Il pleuvait, aussi ils ont décidé de prendre leurs parapluies. (colloquial)
    Il pleuvait, aussi mes amis ont décidé de prendre leurs parapluies. (colloquial)

    Peut-être a-t-il raté l'avion
    .
    Peut-être Pierre a-t-il raté l'avion.
    Peut-être il a raté l'avion. (colloquial)
    Peut-être Pierre a raté l'avion. (colloquial)

    At any rate, there is no exhaustive list of adverbs for which the inversion is recommended and we don't allow such lists on WordReference anyway…

    Maître Capello,
    as member and moderator
     
  17. Mama Caraïbo New Member

    Türkçe
    OK, thanks for help. I'm a newcomer and didn't know such a thing is allowed. Anyway, consequently, If I was going to use the other adverbs at the beginning of sentence by changing the subject and the verb, then it wouldn't be inaccurate at all?
     
  18. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Yes, it would be correct to also make the inversion for the adverbs you mentioned above (peut-être, aussi, sans doute, ainsi, à peine) but this would not be true for any adverb!

    P.S.: Welcome to the WordReference forums! :)
     
  19. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
  20. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Really? As a former teacher I would always consider these examples incorrect. If I were going to avoid the inversion, I would place que after peut-être.

    Peut-être qu' il a raté l'avion.
    Peut-être que Pierre a raté l'avion.
     
  21. This is one of those (many!) examples of something that is taught to foreigners as 'incorrect' when it is actually 'common'--in both senses of the word. That is: you'll hear it frequently enough, but educated people get sniffy about it.

    Which isn't to complain about this, which is entirely correct (and commonly used without being 'common'):

    (There are plenty of widely-used bits of English that get taught to foreigners as 'mistakes', too, of course.)
     
  22. piaf74 Senior Member

    France
    English
    "S'établit alors une forte cohérence onirique, qui pose des questions de l'order de celles que j'appelle poétiques."

    Perhaps I'm being very stupid, but what is the subject of s'établit? And is it common/correct to begin a sentence in this way?

    Any help would be appreciated because I haven't come across this structure before!
     
  23. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    This is a literary way to say: Une forte cohérence onirique s'établit alors…

    Now I guess you know what the subject is… ;)
     
  24. piaf74 Senior Member

    France
    English
    Lol, if only writers weren't stylists! That makes everything a lot clearer so thanks a lot :)
     
  25. jolieaimee

    jolieaimee Senior Member

    Canada
    Chinese
    For this sentence : ou peut-être ai-je mal compris le lieu de rendez-vous ?
    I understand the meaning of this sentence is : or perhaps I understood the place of our date not well?
    I just could not figure out there is `ai-je’ here, what kind of structure it is ?
    Thanks!
     
  26. Kekepop

    Kekepop Senior Member

    California
    Californian English
    Well, it is a question, rhetorical or not I don't know, but it's just a normal inversion from what I see ^^ ... just more "correct"
     
  27. jolieaimee

    jolieaimee Senior Member

    Canada
    Chinese
    Thank you!:)
    But can I inverse it and change it to : ou peut-être je ai mal compris le lieu de rendez-vous ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  28. Kekepop

    Kekepop Senior Member

    California
    Californian English
    In normal speech yeah...it's not as correct though. It's only my personal opinion but I think people should do things "correctly" until they speak a really good portion of the language ^^'
     
  29. Wil_Estel Senior Member

    It's j'ai, not je ai.
     
  30. itka Senior Member

    France
    français
    Après une phrase commençant par "peut-être" l'inversion sujet-verbe est quasi obligatoire :
    J'ai ---> ai-je
    Plus d'exemples, ici.
     
  31. neosoum Junior Member

    French - France
    You can say:

    "Peut-être que j'ai mal compris." or
    "Peut-être ai-je mal compris".

    Both are correct. The second is almost never used orally (it sounds really distinguished) but currently written.

    "Peut-être j'ai mal compris" sounds false to me, it may be OK in oral familiar language but not in written language.
     
  32. Rosarum

    Rosarum Junior Member

    Russia, Moscow
    Russian
    Bonjour. J'ai une question, peut être assez sot, mais j'ai une grande problème avec cette proposition.

    "Au moins son travail a-t-il un sens". À quoi est "a-t-il" ici? Je toujours pensait qu'on l'use seulement dans les propositions interrogatives.

    Grand merci.
     
  33. Michelvar

    Michelvar quasimodo

    Marseille - France
    French-France
    Bonjour Rosarum, Bienvenue sur le forum.

    On pourrait dire : Au moins, son travail a un sens. La construction permet ici de renforcer l'affirmation, en faisant de nouveau référence au mot "travail" : "Au moins son travail a-t-il un sens." Comme vous l'avez bien compris, cela n'est pas une interrogation.
     
  34. Rosarum

    Rosarum Junior Member

    Russia, Moscow
    Russian
    […]

    Grand merci à vous, Michelvar. Maintennant, j'ai compris. Et je pense que cette construction s'uitise seulement en littérature, est-ce que j'ai compris vrai?
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  35. Michelvar

    Michelvar quasimodo

    Marseille - France
    French-France
    Il s'agit d'un niveau de langue assez élevé, qui s'utilise en littérature, mais aussi lorsqu'on fait un discours oral.

    Dans le rythme de la phrase, dans un discours où on prononce bien les syllabes et où on fait les liaisons, il est difficile de prononcer "Au moins son travail a un sens". La phrase a un meilleur rythme et une meilleure sonorité lorsqu'on dit : "Au moins son travail a-t-il un sens".
     
  36. jemqiu

    jemqiu New Member

    chinese
    Salut tout le monde.

    My question is:
    Les rapports se sont-ils tendus entre père et fils.
    Why does it use "se sont-ils" here? I think it could use sont for short.

    Merci bcp.
    ^_^
     
  37. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    There is indeed a missing question mark at the end of the sentence!

    Les rapports se sont-ils tendus entre père et fils ? = Has the relationship between father and son become tense?
    Les rapports se sont tendus entre père et fils. = The relationship between father and son has become tense?
    Les rapports sont tendus entre père et fils. = The relationship between father and son is tense?
     
  38. jemqiu

    jemqiu New Member

    chinese
    Hi , Maître Capello , thanks very much.

    I read the sentence in my textbook, and the whole paragraph as below:

    Soulié s’est rendu bientôt compte qu’il avait abandonné non seulement sa charrue mais aussi son rôle de chef incontesté de la famille, qui dirige les travaux et prend les grandes décisions au nom des trois génération qui habitent sous le même toit. Aussi les rapports se sont-ils tendus entre père et fils. Le monde de Soulié avait brusquement changé.

    So seems it is a complete sentence?:confused: I’m so cofused.
     
  39. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Aha! You had forgotten to mention aussi, which changes everything. :) That adverb indeed triggers subject-verb inversion but the meaning is exactly the same as the positive sentence.

    Aussi les rapports se sont-ils tendus entre père et fils. = Pour cette raison les rapports se sont tendus entre père et fils.

    See also the following discussions:
    FR: aussi personne ne croyait plus ce qu'il disait - inversion sujet-verbe ?
    […]
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  40. Blissinparis New Member

    French
    In fact " aussi les rapports se sont-ils tendus" shows a development in the relationship, a slow evolution whereas " sont tendus" simply states a present fact.
     
  41. sweadle Senior Member

    Hi there,

    In the following sentence is it obligatory to invert the verb after sans doute, i.e.:
    "Sans doute Napoléon voulait-il que le système change trop vite" ?

    Many thanks!
     
  42. Jeanne75 Senior Member

    French - France
    Hi,

    You could say either:

    Sans doute Napoléon voulait-il que le système change trop vite.
    Napoléon voulait sans doute que le système change trop vite.
    Sans doute, (comma or pause) Napoléon voulait que le système change trop vite.

    Cheers
     
  43. Ala888 Senior Member

    English/Chinese
    Au moins son travail a-t-il un sens
    Im trying to translate this sentence into english.
    My attempt is:
    At least his job makes sense
    but I dont understand why 'a-t-il' is inverted and why there is a "t"
    could someone explain this to me ?

    le part dont j'ai du mal avec:
    Au moins son travail a-t-il un sens
     
  44. KaRiNe_Fr

    KaRiNe_Fr Senior Member

    France, Provence
    Français, French - France
    Salut Ala888,

    Avec « au moins » en tête de phrase, il faut on peut inverser le sujet et le verbe. Et le « t » en plus, c'est juste pour l'euphonie. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
  45. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    Alsace, France
    French - France, ♀
    L'inversion du sujet et du verbe n'est qu'une particularité de style.
     
  46. Le Penseur

    Le Penseur Senior Member

    With specific adverbs at the beginning of sentences, you 'need' to use inversion. As the others have mentioned, it's not necessary à l'oral, but à l'écrit it's better to invert these adverbs (aussi/peut-être/etc.; see http://66.46.185.79/bdl/gabarit_bdl.asp?id=3472 or http://www.servicesdedition.com/fr/langue/difficultes/inversion.html for a few more examples of other adverbs that work in this way), if only to avoid sounding informal.

    If you're unfamiliar with inversion, I suggest reading up on it for when it's needed. As for the 't', it's mandatory for purposes of euphony, or how it sounds: it has no real function except to bridge the sound between 'a' and 'il'. See, if you're starting out, any grammar page for more on this (e.g. http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa110601.htm).

    I'll just note here that you can avoid it at times, such as with peut-être, for which adding 'que' allows you to continue without inverting: "peut-être qu'il a fait son travail" instead of "peut-être a-t-il fait son travail".
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  47. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013

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