Sunday, September 28, 2014

Exploring inversion and fronting


This involves reversing the position of the subject and an auxiliary, or sometimes the subject and the whole verb. You'll be familiar with the idea from question forms and question tags, where we swap or switch (exchange) the subject and auxiliary (including modals), or the verb be. You'll also know such inverted expressions as 'so do I' and 'neither do I'.
You probably also know a bit about inversion with negative and limiting adverbials, and that we can sometimes invert conditionals.


This means putting a word or expression which normally comes later to the front of the sentence, before the subject. This could be, for example, an adverbial or adjectival expression, a noun phrase or clause, or even a verb.

The purpose of this post

This post is not intended to be an introduction to inversion and fronting, but rather an exploration of all the different patterns of inversion and fronting I can find, with lots of (I hope natural-sounding) examples. If you are specifically looking for information about negative inversion or inverting conditionals, or about question tags and short answers, you might be better looking at one of my other posts, linked to at the bottom of this post.


As this post is already rather long I'm not including any exercises, but will link instead to other posts with exercises, as and when I've written them.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Exploring concession and contrast

In this post we look at the difference between concession and simple contrast, and at the various words and expressions we can use to express concession and contrast. As well as information about these, there are ten exercises to give you plenty of practice in using them.

Words and expressions used to express concession

The Basics

  • although, though, even though
  • despite, in spite of

Getting more advanced

  • while, whilst, whereas
  • nevertheless, however, even so, all the same
  • much as
  • no matter how / what etc
  • however, whatever, whoever etc
  • adjective + as / though
  • but still, but even so, but all the same
  • (and) yet

Even more exotic

  • when, if, albeit
  • may ... but
  • Contrastive emphasis with auxiliaries
We'll also look briefly at 'reducing' concession clauses, at fronting concession clauses and at something called Yes, But arguing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Random thoughts on 'Kiss me quick'

Preparing a possible post on flat adverbs (adverbs that take the same form as their adjective equivalents) I started wondering about the origins of the expression 'Kiss me quick'.
In Britain, 'Kiss me quick' is perhaps best known from being printed on hats traditionally worn at seaside resorts such as Blackpool, but the origins seem likely to be American.
Clicking on the clippings will take you to the original at Google Books.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Random thoughts on 'bites as bad as it barks'

BMW are running an ad for their 2 Series Coupé with this slogan:

Bites as bad as it barks

A certain fifteen-year-old, Albert Gifford, who is making something of a name for himself for taking large companies to task for their grammar, wrote a series of emails to BMW, reprinted in The Daily Mail, complaining that bad wasn't an adverb, and 'so cannot be used in this context'. But is he right?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Confusing words - near, nearby, close, next

Students sometimes get confused when to use near or nearby, near (to) or close to, and nearest or next. Master the differences with these three exercises.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Random thoughts on 'Early Doors'

Seeing the World Cup has just started, it seems a good time to look at an expression whose popularity largely stems from its use by those who write and talk about football - 'early doors'. Here are some examples taken from the online version of football magazine Four Four Two:
We got a good goal early doors, and I thought we were going to stop them scoring, we defended very well.
a side that seems to revel in giving away cheap goals early doors
former Sevilla keeper, Javi Varas, was brought in early doors to give experience in goal.
but those odds went up and up when the team dispensed of Valladolid early doors in what was an eventual 4-2 victory.
At The Oxford Dictionary of Idioms they define 'early doors' as meaning 'early on, especially in a game or contest'. That many of those who don't follow football have been blissfully unaware of this expression (at least until recently) is exemplified in a remark in an article in the political weekly magazine Tribune, from 2002:
He is also fond of the expression "early doors" although, as no one knows what that means, it is not clear if it is relevant.

Tribune, Vol 66 - 2002

So how did this expression originate? Taking my leads from an article by Michael Quinnion at World Wide Words, I decided to see what I could dig up, mainly at Google Books.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Random thoughts on the expression go missing

  • Have you seen the bread knife? It seems to have gone missing.
When we say that something or somebody went or has gone missing, we mean that it or that person (has) disappeared: the thing or person are not where we expect to find them. It is sometimes considered informal, but is often used in the British media to refer to people who have disappeared, especially in time of war and natural disasters etc.
In the past this use was mainly British, but it seems to be being increasingly used in the American media, and not all Americans are happy about it. In fact so many wrote and complained to GrammarGirl about it, that she nominated it her Peeve of the Year for 2007.
Even the BBC are in two minds about it, apparently. Writing in the New York Times in 2004, the late William Safire quoted from their style guide:
Go missing is inelegant and unpopular with many people, but its use is widespread. There are no easy synonyms. Disappear and vanish do not convince, and they suggest dematerialization, which is rare.
But there doesn't seem to be anything about it in the Guardian or The Economist style guides, nor in the standard usage books.
I decided to have a bit of a closer look.