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I just wonder whether the sentence, 'She knew almost nothing about engineeering.', could be translated 'Almost nothing did she know about engineering'. Someone told me that the sentence should be translated 'Almost nothing about engineering did she know', but i think both sentences could be possible. That's because 'about engineering' is just adverb.

Is 'Almost nothing did she know about engineering' correct?

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  • Possible, yes, but the typical way of saying this would be as in your first version (She knew...). Have you read "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss? (I am Sam. Sam I am.) Sometimes flipping the word order makes sense.... – aparente001 Sep 30 '19 at 3:52
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    The usual reason for inverting sentence structure is to put familiar information first, so as to connect back to previous sentences. Doing this makes your prose flow much better. For your sentence, I can't imagine any good reason for putting "Almost nothing" first. And if you don't have a good reason, you should stick to normal sentence structure. – Peter Shor Oct 7 '19 at 2:03
  • To answer the actual question, all these sentences are grammatically correct. – Peter Shor Oct 7 '19 at 11:43
  • All three are grammatically correct, but the latter two are very un-idiomatic. – nollidge Nov 5 '19 at 22:53
  • Says Master Yoda – Stu W Feb 12 '20 at 22:26
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Almost nothing did she know about engineering

This ordering is not "normal", but is valid syntax and semantics, and it might very well be used in, eg, a story where the ordering helped to emphasize "almost nothing". Especially if followed by something like "... but she did know quite a lot about marketing".

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There is nothing wrong with the first sentence. The second two sentences sound stilted, to be sure. They also remind me of Yoda-speak.

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  • Then all 3 sentences could be proper? – MN L Sep 30 '19 at 1:31
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    They are all understandable, but your two versions sound totally unnatural. Why do you want to 'translate' a normal sentence into mock-archaic language? – Kate Bunting Sep 30 '19 at 8:23
  • @KateBunting: I think you meant to post your comment to the OP's question, yes? Don, rhetorician – rhetorician Oct 1 '19 at 5:07
  • @rhetorician It was meant as a reply to the OP's question whether 'all three sentences could be proper'. – Kate Bunting Oct 1 '19 at 7:51
  • @KateBunting: What fooled me was the absence of "at MNL" before your comment. No problem. – rhetorician Oct 2 '19 at 12:32

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