at no time have I~

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Youngil Hong

Senior Member
Korean
I'd like to say, for the record, that at no time have I ever accepted
a bribe from anyone.

In this sentence, do I really have to say like "at no time have I"??
would I be wrong if I'd say "at no time I have~"

Similarly,
would it be wrong "At no time I did give my consent to the plan" and
does it have to be "at to time did I~"??

Thank you :)
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Yes, you do. In some circumstances fronting causes subject/verb inversion, and negative (or limiting) adverbial phrases do this. You are putting a negative adverbial phrase (at no time) at the front of the subject and verb (fronting), which necessitates a full subject/verb inversion (I have -> have I), similar to question inversion.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Is everyone really happy with using that kind of structure in a subordinate clause?

    I mean, I don't have any problem with a direct satement such as
    At no time have I accepted any bribe from anyone.

    But I'm starting to doubt when it comes to
    I say/I'd like to say that at no time have I......

    But maybe it's just me.

    Also, I wonder whether adding ever to at no time is a bit superfluous? (I dare not write pleonastic :))
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It makes no difference whether it is main or subordinate. It's about the structure of the clause itself and is not dependent on anything else. It seems to me that without the inversion the clause appears to fall into two parts and the connection between the adverb and the verb is lost. The inversion glues it back together again. Linguists talk about end-focus, end-weight and balance, but whether that is what I mean, I don't know.

    Yes, I think ever is redundant, as "at no time" means "never" which means "not ever". However, it serves for emphasis.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    It makes no difference whether it is main or subordinate. It's about the structure of the clause itself and is not dependent on anything else. It seems to me that without the inversion the clause appears to fall into two parts and the connection between the adverb and the verb is lost. The inversion glues it back together again. Linguists talk about end-focus, end-weight and balance, but whether that is what I mean, I don't know.

    Yes, I think ever is redundant, as "at no time" means "never" which means "not ever". However, it serves for emphasis.
    Thanks Matching Mole.

    Actually, I was not suggesting that we should revert to the standard word order subj + verb because of the subordinate clause.
    What I was trying to say is I don't feel comfortable with using a fronting time adverb at all in an indirect statement.

    Therefore, my feeling was that there was no good solution, other than changing the wording altogether, like
    I'd like to say, for the record, that I've never accepted any bribe from anyone.

    But, if you assure me that the original is fine -- except for the redundant ever --, of course I'm willing to take your native's word for it. :)
     
    Last edited:

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Sorry, I misunderstood. I don't have any objection to your examples, I don't think the introductory phrases make the fronting unnatural. One might say though, that by pushing it to the middle of a sentence it somewhat limits the impact of fronting, but, actually, I don't think it does. A break would naturally occur in speech after "that", restarting the flow of the sentence, so that the fronting is still effective.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Thanks a lot, MM.

    One more question, if you don't mind.
    Would the following sentence sound natural to you as well?

    Mr Smith claimed that never had he met the victim before.

    In other words, does the fact that the speaker is not the subject make a difference?

    I think my problem comes from the fact that I feel some sort of added solemnity -- which is where I may be wrong -- brought about by the "fronting" device which, in turn, doesn't go well with the supposed neutrality of a reported statement.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It doesn't sound good to me in that example, but adding "at no time" would turn into a more idiomatic sentence for me:

    Mr Smith claimed that at no time had he ever met the victim before.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I agree with James. I think the reason is that the statement:
    "Never have I met the victim" is not an idiomatic candidate for fronting and I really can't imagine anyone ever saying it (whereas "at no time have I ever met" is reasonably idiomatic, in the context of a strong refutation).

    I don't think it matters that someone else's words are being quoted; I think it's a case of idiom.
     
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