2

I came across these recently:

  1. She used to write this shopping list in squiggles, and then come back with only half the stuff that she'd gone for.

  2. She might have forgotten something and come to fetch it.

In sentence 1, 'come back', not 'came back' is used.

In sentence 2, 'come', not 'came' is used.

Both dialogues are referring to the past. What kind of structure/rule is this?

Note: 1 is a dialogue I heard on TV. 2 is a dialogue from a book.

3

Come is an irregular verb. The past tense of come is came. The past participle of come is come.

She used to write this shopping list in squiggles, and then [used to] come back with only half the stuff that she'd gone for.

Both write and come are infinitives here. They are both related to the same verb, used to. The author omitted the second used to to avoid repetition.

She might have forgotten something and [might have] come to fetch it.

Again, the author omitted the second might have to avoid repetition. Both forgotten and come are past participles.


The omission of words that can be understood from the context is called ellipsis. Here are some examples from the site I just linked to:

We went for a walk and [we] took some lovely photographs.

He wrote to [everyone he could think of who might help] and [he] phoned everyone he could think of who might help.

I can remember his face but [I] can’t remember his name.

Do you want to stay in or [do you want to] go out tonight?

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  • I've seen a few other such sentences, and have actually thought about that (just like your explanation). So, it's common to omit some parts of the tensed verbs to avoid repetition? Is there a name for such practice/rule? – Vincent Y Dec 23 '19 at 16:22
  • 1
    @Yong Yes, it's common and it's called ellipsis. I just edited my post and included a link and a few examples. – athlonusm Dec 23 '19 at 17:34

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