• Only now you can even get them on top of wrinkles.
  • Only infrequently does it happen.

As one of our members has said, inversion happens when a sentence starts with "only" and never otherwise. So why does no inversion happen in the first sentence?

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    It happens alright if "only now can you get them" is what you want to express. It's just that "only now you can get them" means a different thing. The even amplifies that meaning. In fact, "only now can you even get them" is not possible, because contradictory. – RegDwigнt Dec 15 '13 at 12:21
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    You’ve asked 4 very similar questions all together. Are you sure you meant to do that? – tchrist Dec 15 '13 at 13:47
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    In the second sentence, only modifies the adverb infrequently. In @RegDwight's example, only modifies the adverb now. In the first sentence, where you don't use inversion, only is a conjunction that connects the previous sentence to this one. – Peter Shor Dec 15 '13 at 14:01
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    Subject-Auxiliary Inversion is governed by quite a few constructions -- Yes/No Questions, Wh-Questions, Tag Questions, and Negative Adverb Preposing, for a start. – John Lawler Dec 15 '13 at 18:29
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    Dear nima, you seem to be rather confused how this site is supposed to work. You keep posting answers to other users' comments as separate questions. So now not only yourself, but absolutely everyone involved is plenty confused. Please do not split up a single discussion into an indefinite amount of separate posts like that. Address comments directly right there where you read them. I have now merged all your posts back into one. – RegDwigнt Dec 15 '13 at 21:56

When I first saw only now you can get them I though it was ungrammatical, because, as you say, only normally triggers inversion.

However, it is grammatical on a different reading. In everyday speech, only can also function as a conjunction, with a meaning similar to but. There will be a different stress:

Only now can you get them

with even stress on only and now, means "You can get them now, but you could not get them before".

Only[,] now you can get them

with only unstressed and probably rather quick, and possibly in a separate breath group (represented by a comma in writing), means "Contrary to what has just been suggested, you can get them now".


Inversion happens when a sentence starts with "only" and never otherwise. Eg:

Only if you come with me, will I go there.


I will go there only if you come with me.

This is true of many other negative adverbs like "never", "under no circumstance", "rarely" etc.

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