E.g. from Wiki: I hate oranges, but apples I'll eat! or He's not very interesting, but her I would like to know!

I understand it is a form only used for emphasis, but how common is it? Is it perceived as something strange to say or is it quite used?

  • 2
    There's several different kinds. They all indicate focus on the object. Object-fronting (aka Y-movement) is the one in apples I'll eat. There's also Left-dislocation, which would produce Apples, i'll eat them. Dislocation is a copying rule and leaves a pronoun behind, but Object-fronting is a movement rule and leaves nothihng behind. Many more examples in the English syntactic rule list. – John Lawler Jun 9 '15 at 16:58
  • My feeling is that it is not common, but not terribly rare. It is not strange (as in foreign) sounding, but it does feel out of the ordinary, maybe a little poetic. If you pick a very simple example, you might be able to check frequency using a corpus (COCA/BNC/Google NGrams). See how to do that here (that answer is specifically for comparing frequency in corpora; you want to just compare something like 'I like oranges' vs 'Oranges I like'... but choose a better/more frequent phrase.) – Mitch Jun 9 '15 at 17:08
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    Some particular cases are very common; others less so. Thus, for example, “Now that I can believe” is perfectly commonplace and unexceptional, whereas “Now this version of the events which you have just very unwillingly admitted to me after I almost broke half the bones in your body, I can believe” is quite clumsy because of the length and complexity of the object. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 9 '15 at 17:24

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