A book read John.

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fruppel

New Member
Dear native speakers of English,

Is it possible to have the order object-verb-subject in English when the object is focused, such as:

"What did John read?" - "A BOOK read John"

Or does it have to be: "A BOOK, John read" (Or, of course: "John read a BOOK")

Thanks in advance!
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, fronting of objects doesn't cause inversion. So in theory 'A book John read', but we would never actually say that. For it to be natural, you really need to include a contrast:

    John never reads books. Comics he reads, but not real books.
     
    Last edited:

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The natural answer to "What did John read?" is 'A book'. It's usually unnecessary to say 'John read a book'.

    Saying 'A book John read' in this context makes you sound like Yoda. :)
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Is it possible to have the order object-verb-subject in English when the object is focused, such as:

    "What did John read?" - "A BOOK read John"
    As a general answer: "No" - you would sound really strange.

    In earlier modern English, it was possible

    A: "Pray relate unto the vicar what it was that thou sawst."
    B: "Sir, an angel saw I and he spake words unto me."

    Or if you were a 19th century poet:
    "When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    [...]
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance." W.Wordsworth.
     
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