Inversion: Handsome will the man be


Is it grammatically correct if I write something like this :

“Handsome will the man be”

Please correct me if I’m wrong


It can be correct, but I’d expect something like “Handsome will the man be who wins the heart of Helen.” Be aware that this kind of inversion belongs to literary style, it may be considered an archaism: inversion will quickly sound overly pompous outside of its proper place.

By it “can be” correct, are you saying that it can be wrong as well?

Inversion is a complicated subject, somewhere on the fine line between grammar and style. I am no expert on this. In addition, more context is needed to judge your example (I think you used exclamatory inversion in this case). Inversion has been much debated by scholars. Certain kinds of inversion are “allowed”, according to classical doctrine, in certain situations. I guess it also depends on who is asked. Whether it is “wrong” or just “ugly” if not allowed, I do not know. In the history of the English language, there have been a great many types of inversion, but only some are still used. I’d be very careful with it unless I knew what I were doing.

If you want to know more about inversion in literary style, you could try Fowler on the subject, who has had great influence on style since the first half of the 20th century:

Alright, thanks for your input

I do remember that Yoda (Stars War movie series) liked to use inversion a lot.

For example: “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not. Hmm?”