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She had cried all night long. Even now, her eyes were still swollen.

I wrote the sentence above, someone said that I should remove 'were' from the sentence, so it became:

She had cried all night long. Even now, her eyes still swollen.

My reasoning for using 'were' is because 'swollen' here is describing her eyes. It's like saying, "Her eyes are big", for example.

But the correction is read smoother. And somehow, I agree it is the correct one. I have read this kind of sentences before in novels I have read, but I hesitate to use it in my own writing because I didn't know what is the rules.

My question is why it is wrong if I add 'were'? Is there any grammar-related explanation for this?


Here is a follow-up question.

One of the answers mentioned about Compound Sentence and Modifying Clause. I have tried to find the rule for this on my own, but instead of finding the answer, I'm getting more confused. So please help me to figure out.

I took some examples from my favorite novel.

Her eyes were soft with sleep, her silver-gold hair all tousled.

His mare was staggering as she approaches the city gates, her sides pink with blood and lather, her eyes rolling in terror.

In the above examples "was/were/etc." are absent. While in the below examples, the author used "was/were/etc.".

Her eyes were red and puffy, but the child was in her arm, bundled tight.

Her lip was trembling, her cheeks were wet, her eyes were red-rimmed.

I know if I use "but, yet, and, which, etc." I should use "was/were/etc.". But in the last example, the structure is, in my opinion, the same with the first set of example.

So, please help me to figure this out? Thanks!

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Removing "were" would be incorrect, as it is the verb in that sentence. However, you can remove "were" by making your statement a compound sentence, such as:

"She had cried all night long, her eyes still swollen even now."

(Although I think you should get rid of "still" or "even now", as one implies the other.)

The part after the comma is a modifying clause.

  • She had cried all night long, her eyes swollen would be fine. But even if it's grammatical to use her eyes still swollen even now as a modifier to the past-tense action (and I'm not certain if it is), I don't think it would generally be accepted stylistically because of the tenses that oppose each other. You can't really still do something now in the past. That just sounds bizarre. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 17 at 5:17
  • Can you please help me to figure out the rules for this modifying clause? I update my question to reflex this development. Thank you! – Eva Jul 17 at 6:45
  • I'm not sure there are strict rules, per se. A lot depends on how it falls on the ear. Jason makes a good point, but it is okay to say "now" when writing in the past tense, as in "She had cried all night. Now, as she looked in the mirror, she noticed her eyes were still swollen." (It's longer, but more precise.) Regardless of how you solve the matter, taking "were" out of the second sentence makes it a sentence fragment, and it cannot stand by itself. – Brad Ryder Jul 17 at 21:17
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The short answer to your actual question is that it isn't wrong to keep were. It's grammatical, and the only reason for such advice would be stylistic.


The second sentence in the second example isn't grammatical:

✘ She had cried all night long. Even now, her eyes still swollen.

The problem comes from the fact that swollen isn't a verb, and without a preposition to link the second sentence with the first sentence in an elided parallel structure, the verb to cry can't be assumed.

In other words, the following variations would work:

She had cried all night long. Even now, her eyes still swelled.

She had cried all night long. Even now, [she cried] with her eyes still swollen.

Note that the second version (with the implied she cried that doesn't actually have to be there) means she is still crying—which may not be the meaning that's intended.


However, there is certainly nothing wrong with keeping were—or even using a different verb. You could also remove even now or still, since using both is somewhat redundant; that's just a matter of style, but it might make the inclusion of were sound better:

She had cried all night long. Even now, her eyes were still swollen.
She had cried all night long. Even now, her eyes were swollen.
She had cried all night long. Her eyes were still swollen.

She had cried all night long. Even now, her eyes remained swollen.

You could even rephrase the second sentence more significantly:

She had cried all night long. Even now, she still had swollen eyes.

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