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Hi

Could you please tell me why inversion does not work in the following sentences?
Not far from here you can see foxes. (correct)

Not far from here can you see foxes. (incorrect)

Not long after that she got married. (correct)

Not long after that did she get married. (incorrect)
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Comments  
This doesn't have anything to do with inversion, it has to do with word order when making a statement versus asking a question.

You can see foxes.

Can you see foxes?

She got married.

Did she get married?

The "Not far from here" and the "Not long after that" can go on either side of the main clause.
Hi Tom

There is a fairly fixed list of words and phrases which, when placed at the beginning of a sentence or clause, will neccesitate the inversion of the subject and verb. "Not far from here" is not on that list. Emotion: smile

Off the top of my head, I can think of only three phrases beginning with the word 'not' that would result in inversion (if used at the beginning of a sentence):

Not once
Not only
Not until (that time, then)
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But this one seems correct: Not far from there stood Edgar Snow the famous American author.
It has to do with what is negated.

1. Complete negation of the idea in the main clause is necessary to trigger inversion.

Nowhere can you see foxes. ( You simply cannot see foxes. The possibility of seeing them is completely blocked.)
Never did she get married. (She did not get married at any time whatsoever. The idea of her being married is completely blocked.)

2. But negation of something other than the central idea of the main clause doesn't trigger inversion.

Not far from here you can see foxes. (You can see foxes. Maybe not here. But somewhere not far from here.) [Compare: Near here you can see foxes.]
Not long after that she got married. (She did get married. Maybe not right at that time. But at some time not long after that time.) [Compare: Soon after that she got married.]

CJ
MapleBut this one seems correct: Not far from there stood Edgar Snow, the famous American author.
Hi Maple

You are right. However, note that just the word order is inverted and the usual grammatical interrogative structure is not used.
Cf.
Not only did he stand on a chair, he also looked angry.
Not: Not only stood he on a chair, he also looked angry.

The word order in your sentence is probably a relic from Old English. The sentence would be very awkward if the normal grammatical word order were used (subject + finite verb):

Not far from the corner Edgar Snow, the famous American author stood.

The word order in your sentence is normal in at least some other Germanic languages even today. If Swedish grammar applied to English, for example, we would have sentences like these:

Yesterday saw I him.
In the corner sat a little boy.
(Possible in English as well!Emotion: smile)
Slowly realised he the enormity of the problem.

The Swedish rule is simple: if an adverb of time, place or manner begins a sentence, the word order is inverted. Since there is no do-auxiliary in Swedish, inversion is easy. Examples of similar usage have been preserved in English.

Cheers
CB
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I shall spend some time to digest your above views. They’re helpful. Thank you very much!!
Not far from there stood Edgar Snow the famous American author.

Maple,

This is "locative inversion"; it is not motivated by negation.
Complete negation of the main clause triggers obligatory "fronted negative inversion". (According to the meaning of this sentence there is no complete negation of Edgar Snow's standing somewhere. He actually did stand somewhere. Therefore this inversion is not "fronted negative inversion" and is not obligatory.)

Verbs of spatial configuration1 (stand, lie, rest, sit, hang, kneel, ...) may optionally trigger "locative inversion". In such cases, the phrase that tells the location is moved to the front of the sentence, triggering the inversion of subject and verb.
And they may further optionally trigger "there insertion", thus:

Edgar Snow [stood / sat / knelt / lay] near that tree.
Near that tree [stood / sat / knelt / lay] Edgar Snow.
Near that tree there [stood / sat / knelt / lay] Edgar Snow.


So you could correctly have any of these:

Edgar Snow stood not far from there.
Not far from there stood Edgar Snow.
(locative inversion) (not inversion because of fronted negation!)
Not far from there there stood Edgar Snow.
(there insertion.) (Note two different kinds of there!)

CJ
1to name just one group of verbs with this property. There are other groups. See English Verb Classes and Alternations by Beth Levin.
Jim, thank you Sooo very much for this delicate elaboration!

Maple
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