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As my opinion, "no smoking is allowed" must be correct , because it's "passive voice" . Then I saw a title on 9gag.com that was "NO penguins allowed". So what grammar point is here?

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I love "No morking is allowed"! Those morkers make things difficult for those of us who don't mork. Penguins too! Those darn penguins mork all the time. – Mark Hubbard Mar 19 at 15:34
You are totally morking this question up, mark. – drynyn Mar 19 at 15:44
The space on signs is often limited, so the text is abridged to the point of being an ungrammatical sequence of keywords. – JavaLatte Mar 19 at 15:52
Awwww, someone fixed the title and spoiled the fun. I do miss Robin Williams. Still +1 for the original question and +1 for the answer below. – Mark Hubbard Mar 19 at 16:47
up vote 9 down vote accepted

A complete sentence would be "Penguins are not allowed" or its variation "No penguins are allowed".

However, on signs you can often find abbreviated sentences in which the verb is omitted (and often "be" can be implied). Common examples are "(there is) no entrance", "pedestrian crossing (is ahead)", "road (is) blocked".

A sign saying "no penguins" would be unusual (and possibly funny) due to its content, but its syntax is common.

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The context is important. A "No Penguins" sign in the window of a pet shop might mean "sorry, we don't have any penguins for sale today," not "penguins are not permitted to enter this shop". – alephzero Mar 19 at 23:15
If a pet shop regularly has penguins for sale, it's a pretty special pet shop indeed. But yes, a "no doughnuts" sign on the door of a doughnut shop would indicate that they have run out of doughnuts, while a "no credit cards" sign would indicate that they don't take credit cards, not that credit cards are banned from the store. – Zach Lipton Mar 20 at 0:25
@ZachLipton And indeed, also not that their supply of credit cards has been exhausted. :) – CynicallyNaive Apr 16 at 22:33

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