'Into these vehicles climbed the sick and elderly' [Inversion]

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Ju4nCh092

New Member
Spanish - Spain
Hello everyone,

I was completing some exercises about inversion from the book Advanced Grammar in Use when I found a specific answer that I do not understand. In the exercise, there is a piece of news where you have to correct the mistakes related to inversion. The problem is with this sentence:

Into these vehicles the sick and elderly climbed.

I identified that it had to be inverted, so I wrote:

Into these vehicles did the sick and elderly climb.

But, according to the book, the correct answer would be:

Into these vehicles climbed the sick and elderly.

I do not understand it. What I have in mind is that, in order to invert the past simple tense, the structure would be 'auxiliary in the past' + 'subject' + 'main verb', but here we have the verb in the past at the beginning. In fact, for this sentence from the text

'At no time the fires posed a real threat,' said one local man.

I find this in the answer key:

'At no time did the fires pose a real threat,' said one local man.

That is, both of them are in the past simple, but the inversion is different. Any ideas? Thanks in advance!
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Inversion after "At no time..." is obligatory. It's one of those negative expressions that, when fronted, need to be followed by the (auxiliary) verb.

    Never have I seen such a sight.
    At no time did the fires pose a real threat,

    Both the following sentences are good. Placing the preposition phrase "into these vehicles" at the beginning of the sentence does not trigger subject-verb inversion:

    Into these vehicles the sick and elderly climbed.
    The sick and elderly climbed into these vehicles.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The phrase at no time means never.
    It seems that you then have to use an auxiliary verb (did) with inversion.

    The politicians never listened to the people.
    Never did the politicians listen to the people.:tick:
    Never listened the politicians to the people.:cross:

    Under the oak tree three soldiers stood.
    Under the oak tree stood three soldiers.:tick:
    Under the oak tree did three solders stand.:cross:

    To be pedantic, never does not always trigger inversion.
    We have an idiom Never the twain shall meet. But this is an exception!
     

    Ju4nCh092

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Thank you both for your replies!

    So, let's see if I am right. The difference between Into these vehicles climbed the sick and elderly and 'At no time did the fires pose a real threat,' said one local man would be that at no time is negative whereas into these vehicles is not. Therefore, the negative phrases require placing the auxiliary after the phrase, but in prepositional phrases it is the whole verb that is placed after the phrase (for emphasis, I guess). Consequently, would these sentences be correct?

    Under the bridge were playing the children.
    Over the skyscrapers flies a balloon.
    To be pedantic, never does not always trigger inversion.
    We have an idiom Never the twain shall meet. But this is an exception!
    I did not know that idiom, I will add it to my vocabulary. Thanks!
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    So is it accurate that adding "never" makes a requirement to use "did" in cases like this:

    Into these vehicles the sick and elderly climbed.

    but

    Never into these vehicles did the sick and elderly climb.

    Or even

    Never before into these vehicles had the sick and elderly climbed.


    Never did I learn to do inversion. Many things learned I in school, but not this.

    Not convinced am I that requires inversion the sentence does: "Into these vehicles the sick and elderly climbed."

    Like Yoda am I inverting sentences when not needing inversion the sentences are.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You are right as far as it goes. But inversion, although possible, does not always sound natural.

    Take your two sentences:

    Under the bridge were playing the children.
    I don't like the sound of this. But you could say were playing several children. With the definite article, I would not use inversion, i.e. Under the bridge the children were playing.

    Over the skyscrapers flies a balloon

    I would prefer is flying a balloon.
    In such sentences we often use there, i.e. Over the skyscrapers there flies a balloon.
    But again it sounds more natural to say Over the skyscrapers a balloon is flying.

    Other adverbs with which an auxiliary is used are hardly, scarcely, rarely.
    I have rarely seen a white tiger = Rarely have I seen a white tiger.
    They had scarcely entered the room, when they heard someone scream = Scarely had they entered the room
    ...
    Rarely did the fires pose a real threat.
    All of these sound fairly natural.
     

    Ju4nCh092

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    But inversion, although possible, does not always sound natural.
    Yes, I guess inversion with prepositional phrases has to be used with caution. In the case of Into these vehicles climbed the sick and elderly, it would be correct because of the context (a piece of news). Thanks for your help!
     
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