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About words in English dictionaries, sometimes they don't have usages that cover more complicated actions in real world as you expect.

For example, the verb "copy", "imitate" & "mimic"

copy [transitive] copy somebody/something: to behave or do something in the same way as somebody else SYNONYM imitate

She copies everything her sister does.

Their tactics have been copied by other terrorist organizations.

He was just a little kid copying his idol.


imitate somebody: to copy the way a person speaks or behaves, in order to make people laugh SYNONYM mimic

She knew that the girls used to imitate her and laugh at her behind her back.

He tried to imitate my Scots accent and we both laughed.


mimic: to copy the way somebody speaks, moves, behaves, etc., especially in order to make other people laugh

mimic somebody/something She's always mimicking the teachers.

He mimicked her southern accent.

  • speech ‘It's not fair!’ she mimicked.

As I non-native speaker, I "feel" it is natural to have this structure "to copy / imitate / mimic somebody doing something".

Say a lady is swaying her hips, and a child trying to copy it.

If we follow the structures in the dictionaries ("to copy somebody / something"), we can only say:

"He is copying the lady" or "He is copying the lady's dance".

Not sure if I can say "He is copying the lady swaying her hips" ("to copy somebody doing something").

or do we have to make it longer "He is copying the lady who is swaying her hips"?

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Yes, you can say "He is copying the lady swaying her hips." The meaning is the same as if it had the relative pronoun "... who is swaying her hips.". Leaving out the pronoun makes "...swaying her hips." a reduced relative clause.

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