Inversions after negative or restricting adverbs and for conditional clauses- examples in real language use

If you want to know how to use these expressions-typically used for emphasis-you can watch the video below:

  • No sooner had I …than
  • Seldom have I seen…
  • Little did she know…
  • Should you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact me again.
  • Had I known …I wouldn’t have…

You can find examples of these inversions in such TV shows as The Crown, The Big Bang Theory, Friends, or State of the Union:

Not only will I drive you there

Nowhere is it specified that…

Under no circumstance will you give her that engagement ring.


Never again do I want to meet anyone who’s trekked through the Andes on her own:

I wouldn’t have, had I known that complaining about the wet paper…

  • You can also find plenty of examples in the news:

Not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind. 

Only when the capsule has survived that (…) will people talk about success. 

Only then will they be able to agree to an extension. 

Never before has the Security State of Army, Police, intelligence and militias been forced to concede to the will of the people. 

Scientists (…) were prepared to cool the brains, should they show (=in case they showed) any signs of consciousness. Had they done, it would have been hugely significant. (=If they had done, …)

Rarely (in one night) can both main parties have suffered such a grim set of results. [Both the Conservatives and Labour have just lost a significant amount of votes in the recent local elections, in all likelihood as a consequence of the Brexit deadlock].

(On Theresa May standing down as Prime Minister) Perhaps, had she sought compromise much, much earlier (=if she had sought/ looked for compromise…), then Mrs May’s time in Downing Street need not have ended in such disarray and failure. 


Mary P. says she was forced into poverty when she became a full-time carer for her 30 year old son. She used to work to help people with autism before her son was diagnosed with the condition.

Nobody is going to employ me because at a moment’s notice I would have to go and deal with Adriano. And besides which, I’m exhausted. Had I been able to work to my qualifications, I would have been doing very well, thank you. I have more than enough qualifications to head a school, to be a headteacher in special education. But I will never be able to use my skills, I have to give them for free.

(Published 10.02.2019, updated 09.02.2020)

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web

Last week (12th March) it was the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, invented by (now Sir) Tim Berners-Lee. If you would like to know more about him and his groundbreaking invention, you can listen to any of these shows/podcasts:

You can also read this article that Stephen Fry wrote some years ago about him and his invention.

Finally, Stephen Fry also narrates what this video about what the world would be like now (at least for some people) if the world wide web hadn’t been invented 30 years ago (a good exercise to practise mixed conditionals):


Conditional clauses: further ways of expressing hypotheses

Watch this video to find more ways of expressing hypotheses in English:


If you simply want to have a look at the slides, you can do so below:

conditional clauses (types 1 & 2)

If you want to revise how to express condition in English, please watch the video below:

You can also download this file with the presentation used in the video.

You will find the key to the exercises we didn’t have time to correct in class in Edmodo. Please log in to check your answers.

Finally, remember I asked you to write about the following topics:

  1. Write five Murphy’s laws (If something bad can happen, it will happen)
  2. If you won the lottery, what would you do?
  3. If you could design a robot, what would it be like?
  4. If the weather in Zaragoza was like British weather, what would be different?

I will be checking that all of you have done all your assignments, so, if I were you, I would make sure my homework is OK, organised…

John Lennon remembered

El 8 de Diciembre de 1980, un fanático acabó con la vida de John Lennon. Un par de años después, Paul McCartney publicó esta canción, Here Today,  en homenaje a su ex-compañero de grupo. Es una canción lenta, que usa cuarteto de cuerda como en algunas de las mejores canciones de su época Beatle (Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby…), y se entiende bastante bien. Aparecen oraciones condicionales (if I said …what would your answer be?), pasados …


Video (subtítulos en inglés):

Aunque todavía faltan días, también podéis echar un vistazo a esta canción/villancico que escribió Lennon en 1971, Happy Xmas (War is Over), y una propuesta de actividad de aula.

War Is Over