Rethinking Inversion in English Syntax


  • Ellie Boyadzhieva South-West University Neofit Rilski, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria



inversion, insertion, operator, operator fronting, visibility


The article deals with some internal theoretical controversies in the concept and the use of the term inversion in English syntax as used in some descriptive and most pedagogical grammars of Modern English. The analysis focuses mainly on the formation of interrogative and emphatic negative structures in English by applying some basic concepts of generative grammar. The aim of the analysis is to explain the transposition of the subject and the verbal predicate by following the Occam Razor' s principle of scientific description requiring the employment of a minimal number of principles and technicalities in the course of analysis which results in higher explanatory adequacy. This aim is achieved through the application of the terms operator and operator fronting in the cases of both obligatory and reversive inversion. The obligatory visualization of the operator in a series of syntactic structures is also discussed and a general rule is formulated.

Author Biography

Ellie Boyadzhieva, South-West University Neofit Rilski, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Ellie Boyadzhieva, PhD, is Professor of General Linguistics, Cultural studies and English morphology and syntax at SWU “Neofit Rilsky†in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. Her main interests are in three basic areas: contrastive analysis, comparative analysis of cultures, and language planning and language policies with regard to the place of ELT in the Bulgarian cultural context. In the last 5 years she published two books: The Science of Language (2015) and The Verb in Standard Modern English (in comparison with Bulgarian) (2013) with SWU Publishing House. She is also an author of over 50 articles in these three fields. Presently, she is Head of the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies at the Philological Faculty of the South-West University of Blagoevgrad.


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How to Cite

Boyadzhieva, E. (2018). Rethinking Inversion in English Syntax. English Studies at NBU, 4(1), 29–40.