Well and inversion

Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

A certain old couple recall the past. His wife asks whether her husband can remeber the day when they met first.
The wife: Can you remember the day when we first met?
Her husband answers:

1a. I can remember the day well. b. Well can I remember the day. c. Well, I can remeber the day.

I think 1a and 1c surely correct. But is 1b possible and correct as the inversion of 1a for emphasis?. Or when 'well' is used at the beginnig of the sentence, should I use the inversion for distinguishing from 'Well' as exclamation like 1c?

Thank you always~.
 
  • hopefultoo

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    a. I can remember the day well. correct
    b.
    Well can I remember the day. unacceptable inversion - we do not do this
    c. Well, I can remember the day. correct but suggests he can remember the day but not much else.

    I can well remember the day is also possible and would be used for emphasis by someone fairly literary.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    1b. is correct (as the beginning of a longer sentence - not standing alone), but is unlikely to be used in present-day English. It has a rhetorical effect, as Jullianus has noted, and the inversion is correct.
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    1b. is correct (as the beginning of a longer sentence - not standing alone), but is unlikely to be used in present-day English. It has a rhetorical effect, as Jullianus has noted, and the inversion is correct.
    2a. Well can I remember the day when it snowed a lot. b. Well can I remember the day when Tom was elected.
    Then, are both possible and correct?
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    3a. Well do I know it. 3b. Well do I know it. It has big, blue eyes and long and thin arms. 3a is not used because it is alone. But 3b, which has more detail stories, is also correct. Am I right?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Well do I know the feeling of tension that comes during times of battle". I found this in a text of 1944. This is the type of sentence where it might be used.
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    "Well do I know the feeling of tension that comes during times of battle". I found this in a text of 1944. This is the type of sentence where it might be used.
    If I don't use inversion, is the following sentence correct, too?
    4a. I know the feeling of tension well that comes during times of battle.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    No, that would leave me asking "What is a tension-well?" It would have to be "I well know the feeling ..."
     

    compaqdrew

    Senior Member
    English - AE
    It might be helpful to understand "well" as being several completely different parts of speech--at least, that's how it appears in my dictionary!

    exclam.
    used to express a range of emotions including surprise, anger, resignation, or relief: Well, really! The manners of some people!
    • used when pausing to consider one's next words: well, I suppose I could fit you in at 3:45.
    • used to express agreement or acceptance, often in a qualified or slightly reluctant way: well, all right, but be quick.
    ...
    vs

    adverb
    in a good or satisfactory way: the whole team played well.
    • in a way that is appropriate to the facts or circumstances: you did well to come and tell me | [ as submodifier, in combination ] : a well-timed exit.
    • so as to have a fortunate outcome: his campaign did not go well.
    • in a kind way: the animals will remain loyal to humans if treated well.
    ...
    Anyway, the entry is multiple pages, and I won't quote the whole thing at you. The point is that if well is being used as an exclamation, you cannot "invert" it to get an adverb, neither can you invert the adverb to get the exclamation.

    For example, in your original sentence:

    Well, I can remember the day. :tick: exclamation

    I can remember the day well :tick: adverb

    These are both correct but they are not inversion. "Well" has a totally different function--in fact a totally different part of speech--in one verses the other.
     
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