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Is there any grammar mistake in this sentence?

" What's even worse, I slept right through my stop! "

I think this sentence is incorrect because two sentences are connected without any conjunction.

  • If this sentence is correct, why?

  • If this sentence is incorrect, how to make it correct?

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  • @Damkerng T. What even worse was that I slept right through my stop! <-- Is this better?
    – Kevin Dong
    Dec 23, 2013 at 16:22
  • Of course. I usually drop that that. Bad habit. Bad habit. :) Dec 23, 2013 at 16:24
  • @DamkerngT. Getting rid of that seems okay to me, but *what even worse is ungrammatical. (A typo, I imagine?)
    – user230
    Dec 23, 2013 at 16:48
  • @snailboat Perhaps I should stick with What's even worse is that I slept through my stop! (I confused myself by trying to swap words around.) Thank you! Dec 23, 2013 at 16:50

1 Answer 1

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This is entirely acceptable in speech and informal writing, and possibly acceptable in all but the most pompously formal writing.

A coordinating conjunction won’t work here: the first piece, What’s even worse, is not a sentence but a “free relative clause”, a construction which almost always acts as a noun phrase.

There are three ways of understanding this sentence:

  • What’s even worse acts as the subject of a sentence in which the copula and the complementizer that have have been omitted.

    What’s even worse [is that] I slept right through my stop.

  • What’s even worse is a bare NP announcing a topic, which is then defined by the subsequent clause. You could repoint it to express this reading:

    What’s even worse: I slept right through my stop.

  • What’s even worse acts not as an NP but as a sentential adverbial, similar to Furthermore or Moreover. The same thought could be expressed by the bare adverb Worse:

    Worse, I slept right through my stop.

It doesn’t really matter how you parse it. It’s just an idiomatic way of saying that what happened next was even worse than what went before.

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  • Other terms found in literature for "fee relative" are: fused relative (construction), headless relative clause, and headless relative clause
    – Chad
    Oct 27, 2021 at 13:19

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