Green was the apple on the table.
This is an example of subject-dependent inversion. There are many types of inverted sentence. This one has a very specific pattern which makes it very different from others. Looking at the three sentences, it would be easy to think that the structure of the three sentences were completely unrelated:
- The apple on the table was green.
- The green apple was on the table.
- Green was the apple on the table.
The structure of sentence (1), where Predicator is the function carried out by the verb is:
- Subject, the apple on the table; Predicator was; Predicative complement green
The subject there is a Noun Phrase the apple modified by the Preposition Phrase on the table. The Adjective green describes the subject.
Sentence 2, on the other hand is structured so:
- Subject, the green apple; Predicator was; Locative Complement, on the table.
This time the Noun apple is modified by green. The complement, the locative Preposition Phrase on the table is now describing the green apple, the subject.
Sentence 3, actually has exactly the same structure as sentence 1. The subject is the apple on the table, the predicator is was and the predicative complement is green.
Subject-dependent inversion is an information packaging device where the subject moves to the end of the sentence and the dependent, in this case the complement, to the beginning. This is what has transformed sentence (1) into sentence (3). There are four notable aspects to subject-dependent inversion. Firstly it is much more common with Prepositional Phrases than Adjectives and it's very infrequent with Noun Phrases. Inversions with Preposition Phrases are actually quite frequent in everyday speech:
- At the end of the garden is the potting shed.
- There goes the bus.
- Over the road are the chemist's and the Post Office.
Secondly, it usually happens with the verb BE, and rarely with other verbs.
Thirdly, with the verb BE it can only happen with a complement of the verb , not with an adjunct (read adverbial). Consider:
Finally, there is a constraint that the subject contain new information. It can not already have been mentioned in the conversational text so far.
The reasons for using Subject-Dependent inversion are usually either that we wish to link the complement with the previous sentence:
- The Police station's at the end of the Road. Opposite the Police station is the ...
Or alternatively, if we haven't mentioned the subject yet, we may want to make it more prominent by moving it to the end of the sentence, the position that commands the attention of the listener.
In the case of Adjectival complements which are only one word, such as green, this type of Subject-Dependent inversion is quite rare. As mentioned in the comments, it gives a very literary, if not archaic, effect. Arguably it does seem to put emphasis on the first word of the sentence. This is very unusual, because the beginning of a sentence usually carries the least emphasis. It would rarely be found in formal writing or in everyday conversational speech.