3

I am having a discussion with my friend. I said, "Many times I have seen him washing his car." He says it should be, "Many times have I seen him washing his car. Much like "Often do I see him", and not "Often I see him."

While I agree with him on 'often,' I am skeptical about 'many times.' I hope somebody can help.

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Subject-Auxiliary Inversion (with Do-Support) only happens with some adverbs.
Most adverbs don't indulge.
In particular, neither

  • *Often do I see him
    nor

  • *Many times have I seen him

are normal colloquial American English.

Adverbs can appear almost anywhere in a sentence, especially its beginning and end
(though different types of adverbs have different affordances),
and they rarely affect the word order of the rest of the sentence, no matter where they wind up.

One place where this does happen, though, is with negative adverbs;
but only with certain kinds of negative adverbs. So,

  • Rarely do we see him around here any more
    and
  • At no time did he break a window.

are OK (though they seem rather old-fashioned to some),
but

  • *For no reason did he break a window
    and
  • *With no tools did he open a window

are ungrammatical with inversion, though they're fine without it.

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    Rarely do we use constructions like this any more. – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '13 at 22:34
  • 'not normal colloquial American English' I was actually looking for formal usage. If you can confirm, that will be a great help. Rest of your examples are indeed very helpful. Thanks. – Ramit Aug 8 '13 at 4:17
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    I mean that if you talk that way anywhere except on the stage you'll be looked at strangely. Especially if you do it frequently (like, more than once a month). Seriously, neither of those first two sentences are grammatical American English. They may be good Indian English; I don't know that dialect. But they're not grammatical American, and I doubt they're good UK either. – John Lawler Aug 8 '13 at 4:26
  • 1
    That helps, thanks. Btw, it's impressive that you could tell I am an Indian. – Ramit Aug 8 '13 at 11:33

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