“To Be” conjugation with Inversions?

Looking at the TV was/were John and Jane. Should "to be" be conjugated in the singular or plural form? My first thought was that it should agree with Looking at the TV; after all it comes first in the sentence and it makes sense to think that it should be the subject. But then what … Read more

Inversion with “to not have”?

I came across this quote and was intrigued by its grammar: "The soul would have no rainbow, had the eyes no tears" At first glance, "had the eyes no tears" this seems like a type II conditional sentence being inverted (I can vaguely make out the conditional clause to mean "If the eyes had no … Read more

Placing long phrases at the end of sentences/clauses

I have seen the following sentence in some article: Where some understanding exists of how brain processes produce mental phenomena-for example, pain, thirst, vision, smell-it is clear that specific neurobiological processes are involved. It seems that the original form of the bold phrase is is: Where some understanding of how brain processes produce mental phenomena … Read more

What is the grammatical function of ‘all’ in ‘noun + all’?

The people all wanted a new leader. In the above example, what is the grammatical function of all? Is it an inversion of ‘all of the people’ or ‘all the people’? Or is it something else entirely? I have noticed various ambiguous constructions like these, most of which involve a quantifier (e.g. all, both, each, … Read more

“In whose symbolic shadow we stand today”

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s a line from Martin Luther King’s famous speech, I wonder if it is inverted? Because I suppose normally we would say, we stand in his symbolic shadow today. Why is his sentence structured like that? Answer … Read more

Shouldn’t “Only during totality…is it safe to look” be “…it is safe to look”?

In the book "Horizons: exploring the universe-Cengage learning (2018)", it said: Only during totality, when the photosphere is completely hidden, is it safe to look at the Sun directly. So I was wondering why the author wrote "is it safe … directly." Is it correct in terms of grammar? Shouldn’t it be "it is safe.. … Read more

Weren’t+subject … and Were+subject+not … are they both correct for inverted conditionals?

I’ve seen many examples that suggest putting not after the subject. E.g. Were Elsa not a brave girl, she wouldn’t go with us. Can we write: Weren’t Elsa a brave girl, she wouldn’t go with us. as if we invert the subject and the verb in an interrogative sentence? The reason I’m asking this problem is, there’s an … Read more