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"This I know today, but back then..."

What does this word order show? What's the rule?

closed as off-topic by Tim Lymington supports Monica, ScotM, Marv Mills, Misti, Tushar Raj Jul 7 '15 at 16:33

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  • probably - unaware of this in past – alpa Jul 6 '15 at 23:09
  • The word order shows nothing. It's just a "theatrical" way to reinforce the distinction between now and then. – Hot Licks Jul 6 '15 at 23:10
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    "This I know" instead of "I know this" puts more emphasis on "this." – stevesliva Jul 6 '15 at 23:13
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    It has an 'Old Fashioned' feel, maybe to imply old-fashioned values. – Hugh Jul 6 '15 at 23:55
  • What makes you think there's some "rule"? – tchrist Jul 7 '15 at 4:01
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In "This I know" there is no subject-verb inversion. Inversion would be This know I or better, as Jonathan says below: This do I know.

"this" is placed at the beginning of the sentence which is called fronting. The word in unusual position gets more emphasis or dynamic.

You should change your headline. Maybe: This I know. Inversion or fronting?

  • You are correct. OSV is not inversion. One merely fronts the O to give it more emphasis. This was once done more frequently, but it is still used. – tchrist Jul 7 '15 at 2:49
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In order to be an inversion, it should have been written like this: "This do I know"... as a question. We use it to stress the feeling of saying the phrase, among other reasons.

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