If a clause/sentence doesn't have a verb/predicate, is it grammatical?


I heard a sentence from BBC:

So, quite a few different meanings there to contend with, but I hope this helps you to identify which word you might use.

In the first clause (before "but"), there's no verb/predicate. Is it grammatical?

The context is quite simple. It's a BBC English-learning program teaching "behind" & "beyond". I'm using it as an intensive listening material.

The sentence is the last one of the article.

A relative question: Is it better to use the same form of verbs in one sentence?

Later I heard another sentence from BBC:

First of all, to make the difference between 'under' and 'below'.

Is an infinitive enough?

The context is an essay teaching "under", "below" & "beneath" by BBC.

Zhang Jian

Posted 2018-03-21T01:13:26.507

Reputation: 885

Please, one question per post. – Michael Rybkin – 2018-03-21T02:05:31.220

Cookie Monster but they are the same kind. What's omitted in "First of all, to make the difference between 'under' and 'below'"? Please enlighten me. – Zhang Jian – 2018-03-21T06:51:15.297

You should always cite your sources because I'd like to take a look at the article, but I can't. – Michael Rybkin – 2018-03-21T13:18:59.983

@Cookie Monster My source needs to log in. The website/app chooses some articles from BBC, VOA, Scientific 60s etc to practice learners' listening & dictation, sentence by sentence. I dictate 5 sentences every morning, and meet some difficulties at times. I only know the two essays are from BBC. – Zhang Jian – 2018-03-26T01:40:37.307



You're correct. There are neither a subject nor a verb in that sentence. They're both missing. But that's due to the fact that they are actually implied:

So, (there are) quite a few different meanings there to contend with, but I hope this helps you to identify which word you might use.

The omission of the syntactic expletive there and the verb are is nothing more than a stylistic device that's helping the writer of that article make the sentence sound more colloquial and informal (something that you're more likely to say or hear rather than write). So, the writer just wants to keep a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere about his or her article.

The omission of the subject of a sentence along with other auxiliary things like helping verbs that contribute practically nothing to the meaning when things are contextually already very clear happens a lot in spoken English. I guess, technically, all it really does is make the process of verbal communication move at a faster pace.


Sounds great!

— John. A couple of people waiting for you outside.
— People waiting for me outside? Did you ask them what they want?

I'm going to the grocery store. Wanna go with me?

Michael Rybkin

Posted 2018-03-21T01:13:26.507

Reputation: 37 124

However, that doesn't make them grammatical, only explicable. Spoken English is a holy mess. Had someone tried to write like that (outside of dialog), they'd have their hand slapped by their instructors or editors for bad writing. I'm a proponent of speaking well. A person who speaks well can write well and write badly if required. A person who speaks poorly tends to always write poorly. (It's almost inexcusable that the example appears to come from a presentation on the English language.) – JBH – 2018-03-21T02:35:27.927

@JBH I agree with you. Technically speaking, all these omissions are not grammatical. – Michael Rybkin – 2018-03-21T02:38:01.580