The Sorbonne's ESIT website includes a number of declarative inversions I'm not familiar with, such as the following:

  1. "Seront déclarés admis les candidats ayant réussi les épreuves des examens..."

  2. "Sont notées les compétences linguistiques..."

  3. "Peuvent se présenter tous les étudiants titulaires d'une licence..."

Based on this usage, I gather that the context is the stipulation of conditions or terms. I also notice that all three examples are non-simple verb tenses.

Is that the only context? How normal is this? Is it insufferably formal, or par for the course for a university website?

  • 1
    La thèse suivante, qui parle du législateur (lawmakers), explique bien ce phenoméne. theses.univ-lyon2.fr/documents/… Effectivement, c'est un outil souvent utilisé pour focaliser sur l'essentiel. On le voit souvent dans les textes juridiques, ou administratifs.
    – Lambie
    Feb 7, 2017 at 16:00
  • Merci de cette ressource !
    – Luke Sawczak
    Feb 19, 2017 at 1:22

1 Answer 1


I think it's fairly normal in this context, and not overly formal. It feels like language for contracts or rules of a game. The intention is probably to put the verb right at the beginning so it is easier to know what the sentence is about: the admissions, the grading, the conditions for enrollment. If you were to put the verb in its regular place, it would be after a bunch of words and it people would have to read through all that to see what the sentence is in fact about. Here, you have "headings" and you can skip straight to what you are interested in.

  • +1: Yes, that's also a construction found in laws: Seront punis de la même peine…. The intention is definitely to make the sentence easier to read. That is actually the only justification for it. If the subject is "too short", this inversion cannot appear, e.g. Peuvent se présenter tous les étudiants. is impossible.
    – jlliagre
    Feb 6, 2017 at 22:04
  • Thanks! Of course, I'll be interested in any other remarks on its usage if they come to mind. For example, is the fact that they're all compound or modal relevant, or could one say: "Se présenteront tous les étudiants titulaires d'une licence..."
    – Luke Sawczak
    Feb 6, 2017 at 22:54
  • 1
    Se présenteront tous les étudiants... is fine.
    – jlliagre
    Feb 7, 2017 at 8:51
  • 1
    It is very formal. And often used in formal administratifs (government, we'd say) documents in French. Contracts are a prime example for formal text.
    – Lambie
    Feb 7, 2017 at 17:04
  • Merci beaucoup !
    – Luke Sawczak
    Feb 7, 2017 at 17:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.