Improve Your Writing with Inversion, Part Two
 
 
 
 
Improve Your Writing with Inversion, Part Two

The lesson includes the script for the program, a words in this story section, and other important information.
Improve Your Writing with Inversion, Part Two
In last week’s Everyday Grammar, we told you about a few kinds of inversion that are useful in academic writing and common on the TOEFL. But there are others. Today, we’ll talk about three more. In fact, I already used one kind in my introduction.

Comparatives

Let’s begin with comparatives. When you learn about comparatives, you are usually taught to compare two subjects or two objects. Here’s an example that compares two subjects:

She speaks English better than her brother does.

Notice that the second subject – her brother – comes after the comparative word “than.” And, the auxiliary verb (in this case, “does”) comes at the end of the statement.

But, we can also use inversion to compare the two subjects. When we do this, the auxiliary verb ("does") comes after the word "than." Here’s how it would sound with the example:

She speaks English better than does her brother.

It sounds strange, but that’s because it’s not something we do in spoken English. Again, inversion is very formal, usually used in written form, and only appropriate in some types of writing.

Comparing two subjects using inversion is something you can find in academic writing and on the TOEFL. Listen for the comparison in this reading about lions:

Lions roar louder than do all wild cats. At 114 decibels, their roar is among the animal world’s 10 loudest and can be heard from a distance up to 8 kilometers. A lion’s volume helps it locate other lions and shows dominance over territory.

The inversion appears in this statement:

Lions roar louder than do all wild cats.

Notice again that the inversion appears immediately after the comparative word “than.” The auxiliary verb “do” follows “than” and comes before the second subject. Not too difficult.

Conditionals

Now, let’s move to conditionals. When we talk about hypothetical situations, we usually use the word “if” to show the condition and a modal verb to show the result. These statements are called “conditionals.” For example:

If the package arrives by Friday, I will cancel the second order.

But, in very formal conditionals, we do things a little differently. We replace the word “if” with the auxiliary verbs “had” “should” or “were.” When we do this, we are putting the auxiliary verb before the subject.

You may see formal conditionals on the TOEFL test. You can also use them in an essay, but be sure to use them correctly. You must know which word (“should,” “were” or “had”) goes with which type of conditional.

Listen to a short example on the economy. The first statement uses “if” in the conditional clause:

If the president continues pushing the tariffs, the economy could suffer great losses. Some companies are already shifting jobs overseas.

And here’s the example again using “were” and inversion:

Were the president to continue pushing the tariffs, the economy could suffer great losses.

Notice the example’s construction. The words “Were the president to continue” follow the construction auxiliary verb + subject + main verb. You may also notice that the main verb -- “to continue” -- is the infinitive. When using “were” to make a conditional, we use the infinitive form after the subject.

Phrases with “there”

This next type of inversion may seem easy. You’ve already seen – and probably used – “there is” and “there are” many times in your English speaking and writing.

The construction there + BE + subject is used in everyday speech and common in writing. It is also a kind of inversion. We use it to point to the presence or existence of something or someone. For example, “There are some great Ethiopian restaurants on 9th Street” is what I might say if someone asked me for restaurant suggestions. In English, we simply would not use the traditional subject + verb word order in such a statement.

But, in academic writing and on language tests such as the TOEFL, you may find constructions with “there” that are a little more complex. So, here are two things worth remembering:

Verbs other than “to be,” such as “to exist” or “to come” can be used.
But, pay attention: The statement may not always begin with “there.” It may be part of a subordinate clause.

Let’s hear an example using the verb “to exist.” The passage comes from an academic blog at Vanderbilt University:

Icy Europa has a surface of water-ice over an interior that is heated by tidal heating. Scientists hypothesize that there exists an ocean just beneath the icy surface. It may even be possible that this concealed ocean holds more than double the amount of liquid water in all of Earth’s oceans.

Listen again to the statement containing “there exists”:

Scientists hypothesize that there exists an ocean just beneath the icy surface.

The construction “there exists” does not begin the statement. It is part of a that-clause: a subordinate clause beginning with the word “that.”

But, you’ll note that “there exists an ocean” still follows the construction there + verb + subject.

Well that’s our time for today. Should you wish to practice inversion, you can try out the practice statements we’ve provided.

I’m Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
  • roarv. to make the loud sound of a wild animal
  • decibeln. a unit for measuring how loud a sound is
  • hypotheticaladj. involving or based on a suggested idea or theory
  • constructionn. the way words in a sentence or phrase are arranged
  • subordinate clausen. a clause that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence
  • blogn. a Web site on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences
  • Europan. an icy moon of the planet Jupiter
  • tidaladj. rising and falling at regular times
Additional Information
Practice

Change these statements using the inversions you learned from Parts 1 and 2. Write your answers in the Comments section.

Phrases with “there”
A lot of people are in the park today.
A link between culture and language exists.

Conditional
If you need further help, please contact the librarian.
(Use "should.")

Comparative
The boy is quieter than his classmate is.

Intro -ED
Ellis Island is located southwest of Manhattan.

Negative adverb
We have rarely faced such a challenge.

Negative phrase
It was not only pouring rain, but I also forgot my books.
(uses “not only…but also”)
Source: Voice of America
 
Grammar Tips
Can You Catch These Native Speaker Mistakes?
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of common mistakes. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
Commonly Confused Words: Part One
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Click here to visit the lesson page.
Commonly Confused Words: Part One
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
Commonly Confused Words: Part Two
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Click here to visit the lesson page.
Commonly Confused Words: Part Two
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
Cool Stuff
Online Reference
Dictionary, Encyclopedia & more
Word:
by:
Confused?

Found a word in Fun Easy English you do not know?
1. Type the word in the Online Reference window
2. Click Look it up (opens to a new window)
Top Hits

Listen to American music while you study.
1. Click The ► button
2. Enjoy some great music
Resources

These links contain many English learning resources. Some are for students, some are for teachers. If you find information not on Fun Easy English, please post a comment below, and I will make every effort to add it to the site. Thanks.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Site Links Site Content Contact My Other Sites
About
Site Map
Copyright
Classroom
Grammar
Reductions
Idioms
Slang
Alphabet
ABC 4 Kids
Pronunciation
Reading
Vocabulary
Acronyms
Videos
Surveys
Tests
Email
Facebook
Twitter
Google
Howie Hayman
English Global Group
San Diego California Events
Tanegashima Japan
Japanese Language Culture Food
Akikos Kitchen
Shai Hayman