I have found 2 sentences in a law book, but I cannot figure out what grammar rules are used in them. Please advise.

  • 1.) In no state, however, are there [what rule, why such order of the words?] specific guidelines as to what constitutes participation in another business . . .

The above sentence is not a question, so why is there subject-auxiliary verb inversion?

In the following example, why is there no subject?

  • 2.) Between these two extremes, however, is a compromise view. [no subject? What rule is this?], which seems . . .
  • For your second example, consider "Between these two extremes is Jill's view." -- It seems that the subject is "Jill's view", and that the sentence has subject-dependent inversion. The non-inverted version would be: "Jill's view is between these two extremes." Note that the interrogative versions for both seems to be "Is Jill's view between these two extremes?"
    – F.E.
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 1:09

3 Answers 3


The first sentence is an example of negative inversion: after a negating, adverbial word or phrase, the subject and auxiliary (here the verb "to be") are often reversed in order:

There are no rules in any state

In no state (negation) are there any rules


In no way am I going to eat my peas!

Never has he travelled by bus.

Not until she went to France did she realise how much she loved baguettes.

The main reason to use this inversion is for formality; rarely is it used in everyday speech.

There are exceptions to this rule and times when it is optional. See Negative inversion for a good overview.

In your second sentence, "there", which would act as a subject, is simply omitted:

Between these two extremes (there) is a compromise view.

"There" in this case is the existential there - it is not an actual subject, though it can stand in for one. In your example sentence, it is simply not necessary.


In the garden (there) was a dog.

On the wall (there) was a giant spider.

Again, this is not common in everyday speech, and is usually used in formal circumstances or storytelling.

  • For "In the garden was a dog", why wouldn't that be considered to be subject-dependent inversion? -- (With "a dog" as the subject.)
    – F.E.
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 23:38
  • It can be, if derived from "A dog was in the garden." In this case it is a variant construction for "There was a dog in the garden."
    – nxx
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 1:34
  • Actually, I think I've seen before the argument that you're making about there being an implicit "there" in there. But it's been so long, and my memory is kinda fickle--and so, could you provide a vetted grammatical source that would support that position that there's an implicit "there" in there? Maybe the 1985 Quirk et al. has something like that? (I don't know.) Or maybe there's (only) usage commentators that support it?
    – F.E.
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 2:57
  • Or you could tell me that there are no vetted sources that support this and I am wrong? If so I would be grateful to be made right and I'm sure the OP would be happy to have the right answer too. And of course I could edit my question so as not to be misleading. That would all be more constructive than snarkiness.
    – nxx
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 3:24
  • Actually, I haven't been snarky at all. I was merely asking for some vetted grammatical sources to back your claim. Yes, I can back my claim that the example "In the garden was a dog" could be subject-dependent inversion--the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. I was curious to see what you might have. There are lots of modern grammars out there, and some are quite weird (e.g. one considers "a" to be a pronoun). It's possible that your position is supported by usage commentators and/or grammarians. I really don't know.
    – F.E.
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 4:13

The first sentence, could be written like this:

There are in no state specific guidelines as to what constitutes participation in another business...

To make this more formal, and to add some contrast, the sentence is broken into pieces and rearranged.

The second sentence is all the same, except for word 'there', which is left out. The sentence could be written like this:

There is a compromise view between these two extremes, which seems...

Again the sentence is written this way to make it more formal.

  • I understand what an author has tried to do, but is there any grammar ground to break sentences in such way?
    – Pikolko
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 19:58
  • I don't know what rule specifically, but it sounds good to me.
    – JJJ
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 20:18

Between these two extremes, however, is a compromise view which seems...

If we leave out "however" (because it's separated by commas):

Between these two extremes is a compromise view which seems...

Does it seem weird now? No. We can say: Between them is a compromise view which seems...

Same goes for the first sentence. Maybe the structure - in [somewhere] + there is confusing you. When you say "There is a thing in Somewhere." You don't actually need "there" to understand the question, right? Obviously, "there" is part of the expression/idiom (I don't know the nomenclature.) so you have to put it, because that's how you would say it as a native speaker, and it's grammatically correct. Oh yes, and, both "between these two extremes" and "in no state" are adverbials (complexes) after the adverbials the verb goes first, then everything else - that's why it's not "there are" - that only works when the adverbial is at the beginning of the sentence.

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