On the street stood he./On the street he stood.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jullianus, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. jullianus Senior Member


    As far as I know, when the prepositional phrase is used, the inversion is possible like following.

    1a. A man stood on the street. b. On the street stood a man.

    If so, when the pronoun is used, is the inversion possible, too?

    2a. He stood on the street. b. On the street stood he. c. On the street he stood.
    3a. They are on the desk. b. On the desk are they. c. On the desk they are.
    4a. That lies on the table. b. On the table lies that. c. On the table that lies.

    If the inversion is possible when the pronoun is used, there can be two versions like (b) and (c).
    Then, which pattern are possible and correct between (b) and (c)?

    Thank you always~.
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Many things are possible, jullianus.

    Perhaps you would like to give us a context in which you would wish to use your verb+pronoun inversions?
  3. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Any one of your choices are "correct". That being said, you will get curious stares in your direction if you use either (b) or (c). If you were an actor in a 15th century play, then perhaps not; In modern English, you'd best avoid their usage. Otherwise you run the risk of sounding incredibly unnatural to our native (20th & 21st century) ears. :)
  4. jullianus Senior Member

    Does 'Many things are possible' mean that both (b) and (c) pattern possible?
    What I want to know is whether the order of words is the same when I use the pronoun instead of the noun.
  5. Tazzler Senior Member

    American English
    A useful rule: inversion is only possible/ in the modern language when the subject is indefinite. Pronouns are by nature indefinite so they are automatically ruled out. (An exception is proper nouns, which although definite sound all right to me.)
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    And what I want to know is the context in which you would wish to use the inversion with a pronoun:).
  7. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    The only sentence I find barely possible is 2c. All the other sentences (b and c) are not possible in modern English. You might be able to come up with a context for them, as Loob has requested, but I doubt it.

    The subject does not have to be indefinite. We can imagine plenty of sentences like "On the bed lay the old book that I had been looking for".
    If I try to use a pronoun, I get:
    :tick:There on the bed it lay.
    :cross:There on the bed lay it.
    On the bed it lay. (possible, although unusual)
    :cross:On the bed lay it.
    On the bed lay I, weary from the day's work. (possible, but only in poetry)

Share This Page