A good teacher he was. / A great pianist was Jane.

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

  1. Julianus

    Julianus Senior Member


    1a. He was a good teacher. b. A good teacher he was.
    2a. Jane was a great pianist. b. A great pianist was Jane.
    3a. It was Monday that I met her. b. Monday it was that I met her.

    Are (b) pattern possible and correct?

    Thank you always~.
  2. Sparky Malarky

    Sparky Malarky Moderator

    English - US
    This is possible and correct, but is not common. We would never use this pattern except for emphasis, or to contradict someone. Example:

    So what if she hurt her hand and can't play anymore? Jane was no great pianist.
    A great pianist she was! Why, she would have had a great career!
  3. boozer Senior Member

    I suppose they are possible for emphasis depending on context. Except that 2b sounds off to me because of the reversed noun-verb order - I'd prefer 'Jane was' to 'was Jane'.

    Cross-posted with Sparky...
  4. Tegs

    Tegs Mód ar líne

    English (Ireland)
    They're not incorrect, but if you use this type of construction, you will sound like Yoda (from Star Wars). He's famous for this type of word order.
  5. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    Only the third, 'Monday it was that I met her', sounds like fronting for emphasis. The first sounds like reminiscence, with a tag 'he was' added after it: you can say the main clause in full before the tag ('He was a good teacher, he was') or in casual speech you can just omit the pronoun and auxiliary, giving 'Good teacher, he was'. I'm in two minds about (2b), but it would probably be most natural in this way too: from 'She was a great pianist, was Jane', spoken casually. These tags have a distinctive intonation (a mild rise after the final fall of the main clause).
  6. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    They can have different meanings, depending on how you stress them.
    For example, A great teacher he was! means that he was a poor teacher (like A great/fine teacher he turned out to be).
    A great pianist was Jane. makes me think of someone reminiscing about the past and recalling great pianists. I don't find it very different from Jane was a great pianist.

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