In the movie Zootopia, there is a sentence

More bad news in this city gripped by fear.

I figure we don’t need to know the context of the sentence because we all know that it means “The city falls into a great panic”. But I don’t understand the grammar of the sentence clearly, does it lack a linking verb? Is it more proper to say

More bad news in this city were gripped by fear.

Thanks a lot! explain: there was a similar post about headline, but it only told me a headline could be cut short, I still don't know how, so I posted this question.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Is "Leopard attacks farmer, found dead" proper English? – Alan Carmack Sep 14 '16 at 10:56
  • 4
    It's headlinese - when there's a sentence like this, you can just read it as "There is more bad news in this city gripped by fear." – stangdon Sep 14 '16 at 11:28
  • Thank you for your friendly remainder, Alan Carmack, the two sentences are similar, but I don’t think they are the same. In your sentence, it is easy to find that the predicate verb is “attacks”, and also, it’s not difficult to conclude the dead one is the farmer, not the leopard. But in my sentence, it’s a little difficult to confirm “who” or “what” gripped, of course, at last I got that “ no one gripped any thing”(thanks John Burger), there is not a predicate verb in this sentence at all. – selina Sep 14 '16 at 11:30
  • You are right , stangdon! – selina Sep 14 '16 at 11:34
  • Selina, when a question is marked as a duplicate, it means that there is already an answer to your question at a different question. – Alan Carmack Sep 14 '16 at 12:04

It's a typical newspaper headline, so doesn't meet the full English standard. However, it doesn't take much to make it 'legal':

More bad news in this, the city gripped by fear.

No extra verb required!

There's more bad news in the city gripped by fear.

Not as good - it's not clear that the city is this one.

  • The last sentence you gave is very easy to understand. There's more bad news in the city gripped by fear. "gripped by fear" is a relative clause of "city", I regarded "grip" as the predicate verb of the whole sentence, no wonder I was confused. Thank you very much John Burger! – selina Sep 14 '16 at 11:02
  • 1
    I'm not sure I see how "More bad news in this, the city gripped by fear" is a "legal" sentence either - there's still no main verb in it. – stangdon Sep 14 '16 at 11:26
  • 2
    @selina, a clause contains a subject, and "gripped by fear" does not. It is a past participial phrase which modifies city. grammar.about.com/od/pq/g/partphraseterm.htm – JavaLatte Sep 14 '16 at 11:41
  • So I select the second sentence, just the same as you gave.@ stangdon. thanks! – selina Sep 14 '16 at 11:48
  • 1
    @selina: arguably, you could regard it as the relative clause "[that is] gripped by fear" that has been reduced to a phrase by the omission of the subject and predicate verb. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduced_relative_clause. Note the section about reduced object passive relative clause – JavaLatte Sep 14 '16 at 14:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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