In general, we would say "Only this way can we", but I also came across many sentences in the internet which use “Only this way we can”. Is the expression "Only this way we can" grammatically correct and natural? Many thanks!

"To find the best way of living a worthy life through a relatively uncharted experience, is simply by using our intuition. Only this way we can learn the wonders of eternal consciousness, and literately witness that it is alive and exists at all."(The Conspiracy Rhetoric of Mankind author: Paul J. Linke)


The above is the same question as in https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/only-this-way-we-can-can-we.3564026/ ; however, the answers there seem not to be theoretical or persuasive to explain why this grammar is necessary, so I copy and paste it here.

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    The quote seems very ungrammatical. The only Google books link for it shows that the rest of the book is a mess. tinyurl.com/y5syby55 Dec 27, 2021 at 15:07
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  • @EdwinAshworth I just wonder why the grammar of negative inversion is necessary; I haven't found the answer in the link you post.
    – 1MinLeft
    Dec 29, 2021 at 2:30
  • You've changed your question significantly now; I've checked the edits. I'd guess the origins of the inversion-after-'negative'-adverb requirement go back to former constructions and are now fossilised. It's interesting that 'infrequently' cannot be used with subject-auxiliary inversion although 'seldom' and 'rarely' can ... but then 'infrequently' is pretty rare. Dec 29, 2021 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


This is an example of Negative Inversion.

According to Wikipedia:

In linguistics, negative inversion is one of many types of subject–auxiliary inversion in English. A negation (e.g. not, no, never, nothing, etc.) or a word that implies negation (only, hardly, scarcely) or a phrase containing one of these words precedes the finite auxiliary verb necessitating that the subject and finite verb undergo inversion. Negative inversion is a phenomenon of English syntax.

It's therefore correct to say:

"Only this way can we learn the wonders of eternal consciousness, and literately witness that it is alive and exists at all."

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    Hmm. Nice post, but doesn’t answer the OP’s question! Dec 27, 2021 at 16:49
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    Well, it’s just that OP seems completely aware that the version with subject auxiliary inversion is grammatical. What they want to know is whether the version without it is. This isn’t covered by the Wiki quote and you don’t specifically rule it out in your answer! Dec 27, 2021 at 17:00
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    I thought bolding necessitating that the subject and finite verb undergo inversion was enough for OP to know the other version is ungrammatical. But i defer to your superior knowledge of such things (indeed, linguistics in general), and so I would like you to add what's been left out. Or better still, write a detailed answer. :)
    – user405662
    Dec 27, 2021 at 17:04
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    Well, compare, For no reason, Trump would dance naked and For no reason would Trump dance naked. :-) Or Only after considering the consequences, people should undertake potentially lethal actions and Only after considering the consequences should people undertake potentially lethal actions. The Wiki description isn’t complete/accurate! Dec 27, 2021 at 18:32
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    @user405662 Thanks for your being the first to respond to my question, and indeed your answer helps. But "necessitating that the subject and finite verb undergo inversion" just seems not to be adequate for my need.
    – 1MinLeft
    Dec 28, 2021 at 4:04

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