- Prepositional phrases
At the back of the room stood a few couples,chatting
Normal sentence order: A few couples stood at the back of the room chatting.
- Comparative adjectives
The salmon was good, but even better was the dessert that followed it.
Normal sentence order: The dessert that followed it was even better.
He bought a whisky and a beer. The whisky he downed immediately.
Normal sentence order: He downed the whisky immediately.
- Noun clauses (wh-clauses, that clauses,infinitive clauses)
That she had been swimming was obvious.
Normal sentence order: It was obvious that she had been swimming.
Fronting and inversion
An introduction to fronting - a rather extreme example
|Exercise 1||Underline the elements you think have been fronted. Then decide how many involve subject-verb inversion.|
With subject-verb inversion (8)
- Fronted participles - 2, 5
- Fronted prepositional phrases of place - 3, 4
- Fronted adverbial there - 8
- Fronted adjectives - 16 (comparative), 17 (particularly + adj), 18 (not so + adj)
Without inversion (12)
- Fronted adverb of manner - 1
- Fronted object (noun phrase) - 6, 19
- Fronted adverbial of time - 7
- Fronted wh- clause - 9
- Fronted noun clause (without preparatory it) - 10 (that), 14 (infinitive)
- Fronted infinitive of purpose - 11
- Fronted echo verb - 12
- Fronted adverbial of time - 13
- Fronted adjective complement (prepositional phrase) 15
- Fronted adjective + concessive though - 20
An important note about the exercises
- Use capital letters where necessary
- Don't use any punctuation
Common examples of fronting with here, there, up, down etc
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag:
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me."
Glossary (adapted from Wikipedia)
- jumbuck - a sheep
- billabong - a small area of water found alongside a meandering river.
- swagman - a man who travelled the country looking for work.
- glee - joy, happiness
- tucker bag - a bag to carry food (tucker) in
- Waltzing Matilda - travelling the country looking for work
|Exercise 2||Use your intuition to complete the sentences, using the words given below each sentence. Start with an adverb and invert where possible (about half of the questions).|
|1.||Look! , now|
comes here she
|2.||, "Miss! Miss! I know the answer".|
hand up went his
|3.||Hurry up! .|
comes here bus our
|4.||, children, it's time for school.|
go off you
|5.||, try this.|
go you there
|6.||You let go of the balloon, and .|
goes it away
|7.||, one white coffee. |
you are here
|8.||Right children, to bed.|
off go you
|9.||Look! , over there.|
friends are there my
|10.||Bad sales results again, so , I'm afraid.|
our there bonus goes
|11.||Down came the rain and .|
the up umbrellas went
|12.||So, , lost in the middle of the forest.|
were there we
|13.||, who sat down beside her.|
came spider along a
(Nursery rhyme - Little Miss Muffet)
|14.||In another moment after it (the White Rabbit).|
Alice went down
(Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)
|15.||When from France, who invited me to her house.|
this girl comes up
Bob (Song by Bb Dylan - Dylan's 115th Dream)
- Here comes the bus
- Here she comes
- When the subject is a noun, we invert
- When the subject is a pronoun we don't invert
Fronting combined with subject-verb inversion
- Fronting adverbial expressions of place, direction and time
- Comparing with what's gone before - adjectives
- Fronting participles
- Fronting subject complements - noun phrases
Fronting adverbial expressions of place, direction and time
- At the end of the road stood an old windmill.
- Up the hill came a group of hikers.
- with pronouns
At the end of the road he stood, looking at the windmill.
Up the hill they came, more and more of them.
- when an intransitive verb is followed by an adverb of manner
At the back of the hall, a young girl stood silently holding a candle
Along the road the old man trudged wearily.
- with continuous tenses
In the corridor, some boys were standing talking.
- with transitive verbs
On the table the old woman had placed a lace tablecloth.
Up the hill a man was pushing a wheelbarrow.
- In the other room Sheila picked up the phone.
On the floor the children played with their toys.
- On the table had been placed an old tablecloth
At the end of the road could be seen an old windmill.
|Exercise 3||Rearrange the words in italics to make or complete the sentences, starting with a prepositional phrase, as in the example. Invert where possible (which is in the majority of cases)|
|EG.||the table small bed beside a stood|
Beside the bed stood a small table.
|1.||a small the among cottage was trees|
|2.||a child on small the lay bed|
|3.||some gate wandered cows the through|
|4.||was across road a man grass mowing the the|
|5.||ran the he stairs up|
, taking them two by two.
|6.||into room men burst the three|
, wearing identical clothes.
|7.||portrait of fireplace a man the hung a above|
|8.||the fierce at young sat woman desk looking a|
|9.||the had some placed someone flowers on table|
|10.||seen a in could group of the distance riders be|
|11.||of the car a man large out rather stepped|
|12.||out car side a street of shot a dangerously|
into the main road.
|13.||sky in the kite high flew red a large|
|14.||ran river floor valley along the a small|
|15.||round soldiers a marched the of corner group|
- When the verb does not express position or movement, or is in a continuous tense (4)
- When the subject is a pronoun (5)
- With a transitive verb (9) - unless it's in the passive
- When a verb of position or movement is accompanied by an adverb of manner (12)
Fronting other adverbial expressions
- first, then, next, after that, finally
|Exercise 4||Rearrange the words in italics to make or complete the sentences, starting with an adverb or adverbial expression. Invert where possible.|
|Today's party political conference news:|
|1.|| among young people.|
a was unemployment debate first about
|2.|| concerning a possible wealth tax.|
followed heated discussion a then
|3.||, given by the prime minister.|
the came finally the key speech conference of
|And now a look at the rest of the evening's programmes:|
sharks a documentary about next is
|5.|| of our new drama series.|
episode that first comes after the
|6.||And at the latest films.|
than scheduled look a originally later be will
Comparing, contrasting and highlighting with adjectives
- Even more surprising is his attitude to women.
- Best of all was the trip round the lake.
- Particularly recommended are the seafood dishes.
- Just as surprising was his reaction.
- Well worth a trip are the nearby mountains.
|Exercise 5||Rewrite the sentences, putting the adjective expressions to the front, as in the examples above. Don't use any punctuation.|
|1.||The first act was pretty good. The second act was better still.|
The first act was pretty good. .
|2.||The design of the house is striking, but its history is even more interesting.|
The design of the house is striking, but .
|3.||The way they welcomed us was nicest of all.|
|4.||Her younger brother is just as good at chess as Samantha.|
|5.||Jenny Brown was by far the youngest competitor.|
|6.||My cousin was even more fortunate, winning second prize.|
, winning second prize.
|7.||The main course was fine, but the dessert was not so tasty.|
The main course was fine, but .
|8.||The science museum is definitely worth a look.|
|9.||The rest of the the book was rather less exciting.|
|10.||The fourteenth century parish church is also worth a visit.|
|11.||The novel use of horns in the second movement is particularly impressive.|
|12.||His latest book is equally as good as anything he has written before.|
Fronting participle clauses
- Active verbs: -ing forms
A old man lay in the doorway.
Lying in the doorway was an old man.
- Passive verbs: -ed forms
A large car was parked in the driveway.
Parked in the driveway was a large car.
- Notice what happens to past perfect passive forms:
A heavy chain had been hung across the gateway.
Hung across the gateway was a heavy chain.
|Exercise 6||Rewrite the sentences fronting with -ing or -ed participles, as in the examples above.|
|1.||Some cows were grazing in the field.|
|2.||Several trees had been uprooted by the storm.|
|3.||A large tree blocked the road.|
|4.||A large sofa occupied most of one wall.|
|5.||There was a baroque fountain situated at the end of a broad avenue.|
|6.||A picturesque old cottage was set back from the road.|
|7.|| The days when holidaymakers flocked to Blackpool are long gone.|
|8.||An old man carrying a rucksack was walking slowly up the hill.|
|9.||Black Beauty is leading the race.|
Fronting subject complements etc
- The end of the eighteenth century was a period of great turmoil in Europe.
A period of great turmoil in Europe was the end of the eighteenth century.
- His latest novel is in the running for the Booker Prize.
In the running for the Booker Prize is his latest novel.
- The council's cycle path programme is also under threat.
Also under threat is the council's cycle path programme.
|Exercise 7||Change the emphasis of these sentences by moving the part after be to the front. In one question there is no inversion.|
|1.||Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen's best-known novel.|
|2.||Peter Hedley and Janet Johnson were also in the cast.|
|3.||Its size is one thing that you should take into consideration.|
|4.||A Swiss army knife is a particularly useful tool to take with you.|
|5.||Pat Smith has been the frontrunner from start to finish in this contest.|
|6.||This is the gadget I was talking about, and it is a very useful gadget.|
This is the gadget I was talking about, .
|7.||Mauritius is another place worth considering for your holidays.|
|8.||And David Thomson is this year's winner of the literature prize.|
|9.||Jumping Jack Flash has been in the lead from start to finish.|
|10.||Peter Jackson is also in line for promotion.|
Fronting without inversion
- Fronting objects, wh-clauses and infinitives of purpose
- Fronting noun clauses
- Fronting adjectives (and adverbs) in concession clauses etc
Fronting objects etc
- She was wearing glves and a scarf. She had bought the scarf in the sales.
... The scarf she had bought in the sales.
- I don't know what he wants to do with his life.
What he wants to do with his life I don't know
- He wants to move to a larger firm to gain more experience.
To gain more experience he wants to move to a larger firm.
|Exercise 8||Make these sentences more emphatic by moving an element to the beginning, as in the examples above.|
|1.||I'm just not prepared to accept this sort of behaviour.|
|2.||I can't think where she could have got to.|
|3.||She's taken up jogging to try and lose weight.|
|4.||He gives what spare money he has to charity.|
|5.||He does not consider a week a particularly long time to wait.|
|6.||I'll be talking about the problems with this method at some length.|
|7.||They didn't say whether the work will be finished on time.|
|8.||He got a new bike and a train set. He got the train set from his aunt.|
He got a new bike and a train set. .
|9.||I really can't stand people being rude like that.|
|10.||He's gone on a special course to perfect his skills.|
Fronting noun clauses
- It's rather surprising that he didn't know about the meeting.
That he didn't know about the meeting is rather surprising.
- It's always been our mission to put a man on Mars.
To put a man on Mars has always been our ambition.
- It's amazing how she always gets it absolutely right.
How she always gets it absolutely right is amazing.
|Exercise 9||Rearrange the words in each question to make one sentence (starting with a noun clause, as in the examples above)|
|1.||have was big to so late a it left mistake|
|2.||it she why bit did a a of is mystery|
|3.||the field out is the of known how cows got not|
|4.||that believe is to say he thing a should such difficult|
|5.||knowledge common happened next what is|
|6.||should that happened all at this have unfortunate is|
Fronting with concession and contrast
- Although she is good at chess, her brother occasionally beats her.
Good at chess though she is, her brother occasionally beats her.
- Even though he ran fast, he just couldn't keep up with the others.
Fast though he ran, he just couldn't keep up with the others.
- They may be bigger, but are they better?
Bigger they may be, but are they better?
- It's undoubtedly well-made, but does it what we want it to do.
Well-made it undoubtedly is, but does it what we want it to do.
|Exercise 10||Make these sentences more emphatic by moving an adjective or adverb to the beginning, and making any other necessary changes, as in the examples above.|
|1.||Though he was badly shaken he managed to help the others to safety.|
, he managed to help the others to safety
|2.||She may be talented, but that doesn't excuse her behaviour.|
, but that doesn't excuse her behaviour.
|3.||The journey was certainly fast, but it was not comfortable.|
Fast the journey certainly was, .
|4.||Though he tried hard, he just couldn't reach the shelf.|
, he just couldn't reach the shelf.
|5.||She may be highly qualified, but she's rather lacking in experience.|
, but she's rather lacking in experience.
|6.||His education was undoubtedly expensive, but did it really benefit him?|
, but did it really benefit him?
Other examples of fronting
- Fronting a verb which echoes a previously mentioned verb
He promised to finish it on time, and finish it on time he did.
She said she'd beat the record, and beat it she has.
- Detached fronted verb phrases (informal)
Makes a nice tiramasu, your mum.
Talks a lot, that girl.
- Detached fronted subjects and objects, echoed with pronouns (informal)
That friend of yours, he's just crashed into your car!
That book you were talking about, I've just bought it.
Related posts - inversion, fronting and other forms of emphasis
- Exploring inversion and fronting
- Making sense of negative inversion, hopefully
- Negative inversion - practice exercises
- Inversion in conditionals
- Tag questions and short answers
- Focussing with cleft sentences
- Emphatic do, does, did and other auxiliaries