Subject–auxiliary inversion

subject-auxiliary inversioninversioninversion of subject and auxiliaryinvert
Subject–auxiliary inversion (also called subject–operator inversion) is a frequently occurring type of inversion in English, whereby a finite auxiliary verb – taken here to include finite forms of the copula be – appears to "invert" (change places) with the subject.wikipedia
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Inversion (linguistics)

inversioninvertedinverting
Subject–auxiliary inversion (also called subject–operator inversion) is a frequently occurring type of inversion in English, whereby a finite auxiliary verb – taken here to include finite forms of the copula be – appears to "invert" (change places) with the subject.
The most frequent type of inversion in English is subject–auxiliary inversion in which an auxiliary verb changes places with its subject; it often occurs in questions, such as Are you coming?, with the subject you is switched with the auxiliary are.

Copula (linguistics)

copulato becopular
Subject–auxiliary inversion (also called subject–operator inversion) is a frequently occurring type of inversion in English, whereby a finite auxiliary verb – taken here to include finite forms of the copula be – appears to "invert" (change places) with the subject.
In many questions and other clauses with subject–auxiliary inversion, the copula moves in front of the subject: Are you happy?

Negative inversion

The most frequent use of subject–auxiliary inversion in English is in the formation of questions, although it also has other uses, including the formation of condition clauses, and in the syntax of sentences beginning with negative expressions (negative inversion).
In linguistics, negative inversion is one of many types of subject-auxiliary inversion in English.

English auxiliaries and contractions

auxiliary verbcontractedauxiliaries
The auxiliary verbs which may participate in such inversion (e.g. is, can, have, will, etc.) are described at English auxiliaries and contractions.
In English, verbs are often classed as auxiliaries on the basis of certain grammatical properties, particularly as regards their syntax – primarily whether they participate in subject–auxiliary inversion, and can be negated by the simple addition of not after them.

Subject–verb inversion in English

locative inversionsubject-verb inversionsubject–verb inversion
In certain types of English sentences, inversion is also possible with verbs other than auxiliaries; these are described in the article on subject-verb inversion.
Subject–verb inversion is distinct from subject–auxiliary inversion because the verb involved is not an auxiliary verb.

Do-support

do''-supportauxiliary ''dodo
For details of the use of do, did and does for this and similar purposes, see do-support.
Do-support (or do-insertion), in English grammar, is the use of the auxiliary verb do, including its inflected forms does and did, to form negated clauses and questions as well as other constructions in which subject–auxiliary inversion is required.

English language

EnglishEnglish-languageen
Subject–auxiliary inversion (also called subject–operator inversion) is a frequently occurring type of inversion in English, whereby a finite auxiliary verb – taken here to include finite forms of the copula be – appears to "invert" (change places) with the subject.
Questions are marked by do-support, wh-movement (fronting of question words beginning with wh-) and word order inversion with some verbs.

Auxiliary verb

auxiliaryauxiliary verbsauxiliaries
Subject–auxiliary inversion (also called subject–operator inversion) is a frequently occurring type of inversion in English, whereby a finite auxiliary verb – taken here to include finite forms of the copula be – appears to "invert" (change places) with the subject.
The verbs listed in the previous section can be classified as auxiliaries based upon two diagnostics: they allow subject–auxiliary inversion (the type of inversion used to form questions etc.) and (equivalently) they can take not as a postdependent (a dependent that follows its head).

Subject (grammar)

subjectsubjectsgrammatical subject
Subject–auxiliary inversion (also called subject–operator inversion) is a frequently occurring type of inversion in English, whereby a finite auxiliary verb – taken here to include finite forms of the copula be – appears to "invert" (change places) with the subject.
In the second sentence, which involves the subject-auxiliary inversion of a yes/no-question, the subject immediately follows the finite verb (instead of immediately preceding it), which means the second criterion is flouted.

Wh-movement

wh''-frontingwh-frontingfronted
In this case the subject remains before the verb (it can be said that wh-fronting takes precedence over subject–auxiliary inversion):
Wh-fronting in main clauses is often reliant on subject-auxiliary inversion.

Penthouse principle

Inversion also does not normally occur in indirect questions, where the question is no longer in the main clause, due to the penthouse principle.
Perhaps the best-known example of a penthouse principle effect is the distribution of subject-auxiliary inversion in constituent questions in English, which in many (but not all) varieties of English is restricted to matrix clauses:

V2 word order

verb-secondV2verb-second (V2) word order
In these cases, inversion in English results in word order that is like the V2 word order of other Germanic languages (Danish, Dutch, Frisian, Icelandic, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Yiddish, etc.).
Interrogative Wh- questions (like Yes/No questions) are regularly formed with inversion of subject and auxiliary.

Inverse copular constructions

inverse copular constructionInverse copula sentences
Inverse copular constructions
Subject-auxiliary inversion

Subject–verb–object

SVOsubject-verb-objectSVO word order
The word order is therefore Aux-S (auxiliary–subject), which is the opposite of the canonical SV (subject–verb) order of declarative clauses in English.

Dependent clause

subordinate clausesubordinate clausessubordinate
It should be noted that most of these uses of inversion are restricted to main clauses; they are not found in subordinate clauses.

Yes–no question

yes-no questionyes/no questionpolar question
It appears in yes–no questions:

Question

answerwh-questionquestions
The most frequent use of subject–auxiliary inversion in English is in the formation of questions, although it also has other uses, including the formation of condition clauses, and in the syntax of sentences beginning with negative expressions (negative inversion).

Content clause

indirect questiondeclarative content clausedirect question
Inversion also does not normally occur in indirect questions, where the question is no longer in the main clause, due to the penthouse principle.

Anaphora (linguistics)

anaphoraanaphoricanaphor
Subject–auxiliary inversion is used after the anaphoric particle so, mainly in elliptical sentences.

Ellipsis (linguistics)

ellipsisellipticalellipses
Subject–auxiliary inversion is used after the anaphoric particle so, mainly in elliptical sentences.

Possession (linguistics)

possessionpossessivepossessor
The verb have, when used to denote broadly defined possession (and hence not as an auxiliary), is still sometimes used in this way in modern standard English:

Germanic languages

GermanicGermanic languageGerman
In these cases, inversion in English results in word order that is like the V2 word order of other Germanic languages (Danish, Dutch, Frisian, Icelandic, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Yiddish, etc.).

Old English

Anglo-SaxonSaxonAnglo Saxon
Old English followed a consistent V2 word order.

Phrase structure grammar

phrase structureconstituencyconstituency grammar
The structural analysis of subject-auxiliary inversion, and of inversion in general, challenges many theories of sentence structure, in particular, those theories based on phrase structure.