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? Sep 14, 2016 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, 2016 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, 2016 at 11:30
  • You are right , stangdon!
    – selina
    Sep 14, 2016 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. Sep 14, 2016 at 12:04

1 Answer 1


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, 2016 at 11:02
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    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, 2016 at 11:26
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    @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, 2016 at 11:41
  • So I select the second sentence, just the same as you gave.@ stangdon. thanks!
    – selina
    Sep 14, 2016 at 11:48
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    @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, 2016 at 14:16

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