Any construction in which a word group that customarily follows the verb is placed at the beginning of a sentence. Also called front-focus or preposing.
Etymology:From the Latin, "forehead, front"
Examples and Observations:
- "Before the march of the flames were flung picket lines of soldiers."
(Jack London, "Story of an Eyewitness: The San Francisco Earthquake." Collier's Weekly, May 5, 1906)
- "Powerful you have become Dooku, the dark side I sense in you."
(Yoda, Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones, 2002)
- "Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother."
(Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, 1952)
- "Yet to suggest itself as a rational method of communication, of infuriating readers into buying the magazine, was strange, inverted Timestyle. . . .
"Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind. . . ."
"Certainly to be taken with seriousness is [Henry] Luce at thirty-eight, his fellowman already informed up to his ears, the shadow of his enterprises long across the land, his future plans impossible to imagine, staggering to contemplate. Where it all will end, knows God!"
(Wolcott Gibbs, "Time . . . Fortune . . . Life . . .Luce." The New Yorker, Nov. 28, 1936)
- "It is possible to begin an affirmative clause with the object or complement, in order to make this the topic or give it more immediate importance. This kind of fronting is common in informal speech:
Very good lesson we had yesterday.Fronting of the object is also possible in a more formal style:
Strange people they are!
This question we have already discussed at some length.In a few exclamatory expressions, a noun is fronted before that, but these are uncommon in modern English.
Fool that I was!Question-word clauses are often fronted.
What I'm going to do next I just don't know.(Michael Swan, Practical English Usage. Oxford Univ. Press, 1995)
How she got the gun through customs we never found out."