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  1. An event came before another event.
  2. The earlier event did not happen before the later one.
  3. Something had happened before something else.
  4. It had not arrived before the subject.
  5. One event happened earlier than the other.

I need to know are these complex sentences with omission of verbs in italics sentences like the below?

  1. An event came before another event came.
  2. The earlier event did not happen before the later one happened.
  3. Something had happened before something else had happened.
  4. It had not arrived before the subject had arrived.
  5. One event happened earlier than the other happened.

Do complex sentences omits verb in dependent clause?

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  • I'd say before is a preposition in both cases. So there's no complex sentence whatsoever. – user178049 Sep 27 '17 at 14:54
  • Wait.. Why doesn't the last example use 'before'? – user178049 Sep 27 '17 at 15:04
  • Apparently, because it uses "earlier than". Of course, "than" is as suitable a comparative preposition as "before", and either is perfectly happy with nothing more than a nominative phrase as its object. There is still no need to invent a clause that doesn't visibly appear in the original examples. – Gary Botnovcan Sep 27 '17 at 15:36
  • @user178049 --"An event came before another event came." How could you say "before" here is a preposition? What I mentioned all are complex sentences right? – Nandy Sep 27 '17 at 16:04
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    @user123 in modern grammar, before is a preposition regardless of whether the complement is a phrase or a clause. So 'before another event' and 'before another event happened' are both prepotional phrases headed by before. – user178049 Sep 27 '17 at 22:30
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The first three examples are similar in contruction, so I would choose only one of them and shut my eyes to the others. I would also opt to use the traditional analysis because I think it's easier to understand.

[i.] An event came before another event came.

[ii.] An event came before another event.

[iii.] One event happened earlier than the other.

[iv.] One event happened earlier than the other happened.

There's no ellipsis (omission) in the first two sentences; it's just the word 'before' is used differently. In [i.], before is used as a subordinating conjuction introducing the subordinate clause (the emboldened part). So, you are right, this is a complex sentence.

[ii.], however, is not a complex sentence with ellipsis. The emboldened part is not a clause; it's a prepositional phrase headed by the preposition before and the noun phrase another event is its complement.

[iii.], on the other hand, is neither a subordinate clause nor a prepositional phrase; it's a comparative clause 'licensed' by the word "earlier". Reduction (i.e. omission of some elements) is obligatory in comparative clauses, so the last sentence is ungrammatical, or at least unidiomatic.


There's no subordinating conjunctions in modern grammar. The analysis is that before is a preposition in all your examples, but each takes a different kind of complement.

Technically, it's licensed by the comparative suffix -er. But this is so trivial, so I ignore it.

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  • Tell me a thing that do these have same meaning? An event came before another event came == An event came before another event. – Nandy Sep 28 '17 at 10:56
  • Actually we do not have such(modern) grammar books here, even though some books named as Modern English grammar in those books also mentioned subordinating conjunctions topic. Most of the academic and other people here are referring High School English Grammar and Composition by Wren & Martin. In this book also there is a topic about this. That is why I got confused by this topic. – Nandy Sep 28 '17 at 11:11
  • @user123 Yes, both sentences have the same meaning. I think it's best to start with the traditional one. I've been there too. I found that traditional grammar is easier to understand but it's rather inconsistent (especially, in terms of terminology); modern grammar, on the other hand, is consistent but hard to understand for some reason. A recommended modern grammar book for students is A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (Huddleston and Pullum, 2005). I think you can find this on the internet. – user178049 Sep 28 '17 at 11:27
  • Thanks for your suggestion. Please could you tell me do all these independent sentences with one clause/one verb? 1.An event came before another event. 2.The earlier event did not happen before the later one. 3.Something had happened before something else. 4.It had not arrived before the subject. 5.One event happened earlier than the other. – Nandy Sep 28 '17 at 11:32
  • @user123 Hmm.. I don't see independent clauses here. As I said [before+noun] is a phrase. – user178049 Sep 28 '17 at 11:37

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