difference between "did he regain" and "he regained"

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oilwr

New Member
Thai
I'm reading a book, "English unlimited" / Cambridge.
I came across the sentence and not sure about its use. The topic is about Bohumil Hrabal.

"From 1963 to 1968, he published 8 works but was then banned from publishing. Only in 1995 did he regain the right to publish, but still several of his works could only be published abroad."

I wonder why not "he regained". It's an affirmative sentence.
Is there any difference between "did he regain" and "he regained"?
Why is "did" positioned there? To emphasize meaning?

Thank you
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The word order of the sentence is correct. 'Only in 1995 did he regain the right to publish ...' :tick:
    It is a standard way of emphasising a point.

    The non-emphatic word order would be: 'He regained the right to publish only in 1995 ... ' :tick:

    Another way to create emphasis is what is called a cleft sentence:
    'It was only in 1995 that he regained the right to publish ...' :tick:

    On the other hand, the following word order is wrong:
    'Only in 1995 he regained the right to publish ...' :cross:
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Only' counts as a negative word: as well as obvious negatives like 'never', 'nowhere', 'nothing', some words for small quantities like 'only' and 'hardly' cause subject/auxiliary inversion when they go at the front of a sentence for emphasis:

    He has regained the right to publish . . .
    Nowhere/Never has he regained the right to publish . . .
    Only recently has he regained the right to publish . . .
    Hardly has he regained the right to publish, when . . .

    See, all of those cause inversion of the subject with the auxiliary 'has'. I used an example where there was already an auxiliary in the affirmative sentence. If there isn't, as in your example, you need to add auxiliary 'do' in order to invert it:

    He regained the right to publish . . .
    Nowhere/Never did he regain the right to publish . . .
    Only recently did he regain the right to publish . . .

    Positive phrases don't cause this inversion when they go at the front:

    Recently he regained the right to publish . . .
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Welcome to the Forum, Oilwr! :)

    In the sentence you gave, did he regain is required.

    In English, you can put the time adverbial in front, and that doesn't affect the verb: In 1995, he regained the right to publish.

    However, if you use an adverbial with only, you need an auxiliary verb to follow immediately. If there isn't one, you use a form of do.

    Only by working at it every day was he able to come so far.
    Only in a few countries is Christmas celebrated​ in January.

    EDIT. Crossposted with wandle, owlman and etb; etb who has usefully contextualised the discussion. :)
     
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