Word order (direct object before subject & verb)


Mrs Macatta was a woman of a great earnestness of purpose. Mrs Vanderlyn she dismisses immediately as a useless and parasitic type. (:)) Lady Julia she tried to interest in…
© A. Christie

Could you say, where and with what wording an ‘inversion’ of such kind (a direct object before the subject + the verb) is acceptable?

How would it sound if I say (in the above context): ‘Her she dismissed immediately…’ ? :? :?

It would sound fine if you were setting up the other half of a contrast, which is what is going on in your extract, and is one reason for fronting information: to give it prominence.

The full context:

Mister Micawber, I know that the above is fine, as Christie’s texts have been time-tested :slight_smile:
And I understand the purpose of word inversion, as in Russian it is used much more wide and fluently.

My question was purely ‘grammatical’, as written English is usually quite strict about the word order
(in compare :slight_smile: ) and it’s extremely easy to mix up ‘acceptable style’ and just a grammatical error.

You have answered my question about ‘acceptability’, thank you.
But I am afraid, I won’t still dare to use the style (and do so fluent with grammar) by myself. :frowning:

Hi Tamara

I’d say that you should look at this structure as a structure “for special occasions only”. It can be used emphatically. In my example, I think you can also see the contrast that MM mentioned (and that your example also illustrates):

Mary: I’ve heard a few unusual things about some of the people who work here. Do you know anything about Jane Doe?

Janet: No, not much. She tends to keep to herself.

Mary: What about Sue Smith? Do you know anything about her?

Janet: Sue? Oh, yeah! Her I know plenty about! Just wait till you hear what Sue has done to me! You’re not going to believe it!


Hi Tamara,

You say:

That I don’t agree with. With that I don’t agree. I don’t agree with that. Agree with that I don’t.

That’s one of the beauties of the language, in my book. You can take liberties but as Amy hints, you have to make sure that what you write is appropriate, relevant and fits the occasion. And that’s the problem.


Thanks, Alan. It’s amazing! :slight_smile: :smiley:

Amy, it’s the same as I would say it in Russian.
But it is still saying… speaking English.

But I meant not the direct speech (as in your and Alan examples), but narrative statements. In writing.
As in Christie’s text.

When you describe something not from the first person and without obvious feelings.

But thanks, I seem to have understood the contrast-point… in general :slight_smile: