Why do sometimes people omit verbs?

mrlinhtinh92

Member
Vietnamese
Sometimes I find that people omit verb-to be
For example
"I'm feeling rather tired", he said, his eyes glazing"
why don't they say "his eyes are glazing"?
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    It's not a full sentence. It's a participial modifier using the present participle "glazing". The verb "to be" is inferred.

    Besides, if there was to be a verb "to be", it would be its past form - "His eyes were glazing". That is because the story goes in the past tense, as the verb "said" suggests.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Mrlinhtinh, I don't know if you have done much English grammar. In your example, there is a participial clause. These kinds of clauses do not require the verb to be. The participle in question could be a present participle (going, itching, glazing) or a past participle.

    • Going into the room, I noticed the blood stain on the door. (=As I was going into the room ...)
    • I was in pain, my body itching all over. (= ... as my body was itching all over.)
     

    mrlinhtinh92

    Member
    Vietnamese
    I really appreciate your response. As I understand, it is similar to the sentence "The boy standing over there is the best student in my class".
    But the problem is if I say "I'm feeling rather tired", he said, his eyes were glazing" or "I was in pain, my body is itching all over", is it correct?
    Besides, it seems that the comma cannot combine 2 sentences together therefore people use participial clause to do that.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But the problem is if I say "I'm feeling rather tired", he said, his eyes were glazing" or "I was in pain, my body is itching all over", is it correct?
    It is not correct with that punctuation as you now have two complete sentences. You can't just add another subject and verb to a sentence that already has a subject and verb.
    Two sentences: "I'm feeling rather tired", he said. His eyes were glazing over."
    One sentence: "I'm feeling rather tired", he said as his eyes were glazing over."
    I had to add "over" now that glazing is a verb because it sounded very odd otherwise. "His eyes were glazing." seems like "His eyes were made of glazing (glass)."
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Sometimes I find that people omit verb-to be
    For example
    "I'm feeling rather tired", he said, his eyes glazing"
    why don't they say "his eyes are glazing"?
    Technically, his eyes glazing is an "absolute construction". Absolute clauses are "non-finite" - that is, they lack a main verb.
    You can read all about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_phrase

    There are many other reasons for omitting the verb "to be".
     
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