Starting a sentence with a negative adverbial word or phrase and reversing the order of the subject and the auxiliary verb is another way of adding emphasis. This is called inversion. It is a feature of more formal writing and is also used in political speeches, on the news, and in literature. Some native speakers may also use it occasionally in day-to-day conversation.

Here are some of the more common ways of using inversion.

Adverbs (never, barely, hardly, rarely, seldom, scarcely)

The sentence begins with an adverb and the order of the subject and auxiliary verb is inverted.

  • Hardly had we arrived at the beach when the sky clouded over and it began to pour rain.
  • Seldom has there been a more clear cut case of bribery.

If the sentence has no auxiliary verb, use the verb "do".

  • Rarely did he spend time with his family.
  • Never did he think about anyone but himself.

Only + Dependent Clause

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