Here is the original sentence: So, I decided to walk only at night until I was far from the town.

A teacher said this sentence can be changed into the following one : Only at night, did I dicide to walk until I was far from the town.

I know subject-auxiliary verb should be inverted when a sentence starts with only in the beginning. But, I think here, the phrase, only at night, is a part of to-infinitive chunk, to walk only at night. It itself is not independent adverbial phrase and thus I think it can not be fronted. If it has to be fronted, I think the meaning changes a lot. It is not to walk only at night what you decided, but it is only at night that you made a decision to walk.

It would be really great if you could give me your opinion :) Thank you :)

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    Fronting the temporal adverbial: 'Only at night did I decide to walk until I was far from the town.' means that it was getting late when you took the decision to walk [to some place which was] a long way from town (and the sentence is in a very formal register). // Your original 'I decided to walk only at night until I was far from the town.' has, as you say, a different meaning. At some point in the future, you will be far from town. Until then, you would confine your walking to the nighttime. Apr 6, 2020 at 14:34
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    Plus, fronting negative adverbs with subject-auxiliary inversion is melodramatic, archaic, and rare. Nobody talks or writes like that. Plus of course it's hard to do right, as this example shows. Maybe your teacher is wrong. Apr 6, 2020 at 15:50
  • You are correct. Your teacher is wrong. Yoda might come up with “Decide to walk only at night I did, until far from town I was.”
    – Jim
    Apr 6, 2020 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


Because there is no object following the verb, the noun phrase after the verb "walk" can be decoded as subject without any problem. In English, such an inversion often introduces do-support.

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    The question is about whether changing the position of the adverbial changes the sense. It does. Apr 6, 2020 at 15:09

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