When To Put The Auxiliary Verb Before The Subject?

We put an auxiliary verb before the subject of a clause in several different structures. This is called inversion. Consider the statement She is coming with us, in which the subject she precedes the auxiliary is. In the corresponding YES/NO question Is she coming with us?, the auxiliary is comes before the subject she.

Note that inversion does not occur in indirect questions.

  • I don’t know if she is coming with me. (NOT I don’t know if is she coming me?)

Inversion may also occur in certain other circumstances.

With may

In wishes, may often comes before the subject.

  • May God bless you.
  • May all your dreams come true.

After words like scarcely, hardly, seldom, little, never, rarely etc.

  • Little did he realize the danger he faced.
  • Never have I seen such a mess.

Sometimes a negative adverb or adverbial expression comes at the beginning of a clause for emphasis. It is usually followed by an auxiliary verb + subject.

  • Under no circumstances can we cash cheques.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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