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Strange construction/help

Forum > English only || Bottom

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Strange construction/help
Message from a_limon posted on 07-05-2012 at 14:31:46 (D | E | F)
Hello!

I have met strange English sentence construction. I'm not sure it's correct. Am I right? Would it be it correct without "only"?

Only in two cases can we find a similar construction.
Only from this point of view is it possible to approach the problem.
Only tomorrow will they receive our telegram.
Only in 1733 did justice triumph when a new investigation was launched and both villains were hanged.
Only after 1500 В. С. do bronze sickles begin to figure in Egyptian pictures or European hords.
Only occasionally do human bones found in these tumuli indicate the action of fire.

Thanks.

-------------------
Edited by lucile83 on 07-05-2012 14:39



Re: Strange construction/help from sherry48, posted on 07-05-2012 at 14:38:33 (D | E)
Hello.

Although, the usual place is before the verb, as in..we can only find...starting the sentence with the word only is a way of showing special emphasis.
Another way to emphasize the word is to place it after the verb...We can find only one.
I hope it's clear.
Sherry




Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 07-05-2012 at 14:52:07 (D | E)
Hi, Sherry!
I couldn't get it: the examples I gave are wrong?




Re: Strange construction/help from notrepere, posted on 07-05-2012 at 15:04:07 (D | E)
Hello

All of your examples are correct.



Re: Strange construction/help from sherry48, posted on 07-05-2012 at 15:08:03 (D | E)
Hello again.
Yes, as notrepere said, they are all correct.
I was trying to explain that with the word only, it's possible to find it in 3 different places in the sentence.
Sherry

-------------------
Edited by sherry48 on 07-05-2012 15:08




Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 07-05-2012 at 15:28:30 (D | E)
Sherry, but the question which arose before me was not about where "only" must be put. The problem was about the position verbs before subject,like in ...Only in two cases CAN we find a similar construction.





Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 07-05-2012 at 18:44:43 (D | E)
Why do the verbs "can, is, will, did" in my examples be put before subjects? It is not questions to do like that.
Or the word "only" has some effect to this?



Re: Strange construction/help from lucile83, posted on 07-05-2012 at 19:41:22 (D | E)
Hello,

I go on...

a-limon, in your examples
Only in two cases can we find a similar construction.
Only from this point of view is it possible to approach the problem.
Only tomorrow will they receive our telegram.

the word 'only' is at the beginning of the sentence, which is not a question, but we build the sentence like a question, without any question mark.
You have to know that, it is an important grammatical point.



Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 07-05-2012 at 20:07:02 (D | E)
Lucile,
I always thought that it is impossible to put subject after linking verbs, modal verbs and auxiliary verbs in declarative sentences. Tell me please whether it is possible only because we use "only", or we can put the subject between parts of the predicate when we want....
"Tomorrow will they receive our telegram." From this point of view is it possible to approach the problem?
Also,could we,putting the "only" in other position of a sentence, put the subject between verbs? ...Is it possible to approach the problem only from this point of view."
Thank you.




Re: Strange construction/help from geke, posted on 07-05-2012 at 22:22:06 (D | E)
Hello,

I'm not a native speaker of English, but here's my opinion anyway:

You have discovered a subtle point, something for advanced students of English.
This "reverse" order of subject and verb is used only in cases where the emphasis on one part of the sentence is especially strong, as Shelly48 wrote, and I guess it's only done this way in British English.
You can put them in the "normal" order without making a big mistake:
"Only tomorrow they will receive our telegram."
But maybe you can sense that there is something not quite OK with that sentence? As if one should add a comma after "tomorrow", or somehow separate the two parts?

Americans would rather say it this way:
"It's only tomorrow that they'll receive our telegram."
Here it's clearer what's happening: there are actually two statements, linked in American English by the word "that". In British English, the link is created by reversing the order of verb and subject of the second part.

You can also think of such sentences as an answer to a question. For example:
Q "When will they receive our telegram?"
A "Only tomorrow will they receive our telegram."
The first part of the answer contains all the information and replaces the "when" of the question; the second part only repeats the rest of the question to make the sentence more complete.

Compare this answer with: "They will receive our telegram only tomorrow." You can see that now, there is much less emphasis on the "only tomorrow".

As I said, I'm not a native speaker, and I would be happy if someone could correct the above. This is an interesting point!

-------------------
Edited by lucile83 on 07-05-2012 22:47



Re: Strange construction/help from lucile83, posted on 07-05-2012 at 22:51:10 (D | E)
Hello a-limon

Tell me please whether it is possible only because we use "only" .....
yes! it is due to the use of 'only' at the beginning of the sentence, to emphasize the meaning.



Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 08-05-2012 at 00:00:50 (D | E)
Thanks a lot,friends, for your full, fine answers.



Re: Strange construction/help from notrepere, posted on 08-05-2012 at 23:46:50 (D | E)
Hello

geke said:
I'm not a native speaker of English, but here's my opinion anyway:

You have discovered a subtle point, something for advanced students of English.
This "reverse" order of subject and verb is used only in cases where the emphasis on one part of the sentence is especially strong, as Shelly48 wrote, and I guess it's only done this way in British English.
You can put them in the "normal" order without making a big mistake:
"Only tomorrow they will receive our telegram."
But maybe you can sense that there is something not quite OK with that sentence? As if one should add a comma after "tomorrow", or somehow separate the two parts?

Americans would rather say it this way:
"It's only tomorrow that they'll receive our telegram."


No, actually I'd rather say:
They'll receive our telegram tomorrow. (I would not use the word 'only'. If you need to add more information, you can say: Telegrams are only sent on Thursday).


Here it's clearer what's happening: there are actually two statements, linked in American English by the word "that". In British English, the link is created by reversing the order of verb and subject of the second part.

You can also think of such sentences as an answer to a question. For example:
Q "When will they receive our telegram?"
A "Only tomorrow will they receive our telegram."
The first part of the answer contains all the information and replaces the "when" of the question; the second part only repeats the rest of the question to make the sentence more complete.

Compare this answer with: "They will receive our telegram only tomorrow." You can see that now, there is much less emphasis on the "only tomorrow".

The word "only" causes problems, just like it did in bernard's exercise, because of its placement. The meaning is not clear.

They will receive our telegram only tomorrow.

This can mean "they will receive our telegram and nothing else tomorrow.
or
It can mean "They will receive our telegram tomorrow and on no other day (although it sounds a bit "ESL" this way).



Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 09-05-2012 at 22:49:16 (D | E)
Hello!
I think that using the word "Only" in the beginning "Only tomorrow will they receive our telegram." is the best way to say that tomorrow is the nearest day for receiving our telegram.
Other sentences, like
"It's only tomorrow that they'll receive our telegram." (the only day when they can get our telegram) could have double sense. Notrepere said: They'll receive our telegram tomorrow. (I would not use the word 'only'. If you need to add more information, you can say: Telegrams are only sent on Thursday). Then again, "Telegrams are only sent on Thursday" could mean "There are nothing else except telegrams that are sent on Thursday.




Re: Strange construction/help from senttomyroom40, posted on 20-05-2012 at 03:22:18 (D | E)
Hi,

I agree. When you use only at the beginning of every sentence, it makes it sound more . . .
Well, it makes it emphasize some sentences since you are using it over and over and over.
;;



Re: Strange construction/help from senttomyroom40, posted on 20-05-2012 at 03:28:24 (D | E)
Hi,

If you notice it, then, yes, it does emphasize the paragraph very well. I wouldn't say that it you're using only as the right word to start every single sentence with. Maybe you could have left the only's out for some sentences. Or, you could have added them in but at a different part in the sentence.





Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 20-05-2012 at 19:01:28 (D | E)
Hello,

I often saw the sentence in the lyrics of Michael Jackson's song "Give in to me"
"And never did I ask you question why."
I wonder if it is the inversion (in declarative sentence) or the question.
Link
on 1.10

-------------------
Edited by lucile83 on 20-05-2012 19:13



Re: Strange construction/help from gerondif, posted on 20-05-2012 at 21:10:47 (D | E)
Hello,
the meaning of the words from the songs are:

"You always knew just how to make me cry
and I never asked you why you take pleasure in hurting me".

It is not a question.

The strange construction as you call it is due to the fact that "to" will rhyme with "you" and "cry" with "why".
It is also a form of insistance, or a form of poetry.

You always knew just how to make me cry
and I never asked you why.

and I never asked you any questions why.
and I never did ask you any questions why. (form of insistance as in "I do love you", but rare with never)
and never did I ask you any questions why.

the same construction would apply in:
"Little did he know that he would meet her again"= He had no idea he would meet her again.



Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 21-05-2012 at 00:16:18 (D | E)
gerondif thank you.
I have found out that it is the case of the inversion Link


-------------------
Edited by lucile83 on 21-05-2012 08:21



Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 28-05-2012 at 23:47:56 (D | E)
Hello!
Could you look in to the link and say whether the sentence"Don't you ever make no mistake" is the declarative sentence OR question. Link
(1.18 min).
Thank you.



Re: Strange construction/help from notrepere, posted on 29-05-2012 at 00:03:38 (D | E)
Hello

Don't you ever make no mistake is not a grammatically correct sentence.



Re: Strange construction/help from gerondif, posted on 29-05-2012 at 00:12:16 (D | E)
Hello,

M Jackson is giving advice to the person he's talking to: It is an imperative, not a question.

Don't make any mistake ! I've got what it takes !
Don't you make any mistake ! I've got what it takes !
Don't you ever make any mistake !I've got what it takes !
Don't you ever make no mistake !I've got what it takes!
Make no mistake! I've got what it takes ! would be correct but too short for the song !!


1) It would be better if the lyrics had punctuation, you wouldn't have to wonder, although the meaning is clear.
2) Double negations are often heard in colloquial oral speech.




Re: Strange construction/help from a_limon, posted on 29-05-2012 at 00:32:19 (D | E)
gerondif, thank you. "I've got what it takes" means "I know(I have understood)negative effects of mistakes?" (I know what follows mistakes")




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