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I'm reading the novel "The Circle" these days. However, there is a sentence making me curious.

"When she opened her eyes she saw a harbor seal, twenty feet in front of her, staring at her as would a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into."

I can't find verb after "as would...", also so far as I know after relative clause (whose), there should be subject and verb. However, in this sentence, there is only yard which is a noun functioning as the subject. Is this sentence a kind of exception?

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    The Guardian think this writer (Dave Eggers) is "fluent", but I think the cited text is just "clunky". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 5 at 16:21
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    The placement of would is unusual, and I assume it is done only because its subject – a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into – is so heavy that if would came last the reader would have a little bit of trouble attaching it to dog. – Anton Sherwood Jul 6 at 3:49
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When she opened her eyes she saw a harbor seal, twenty feet in front of her, staring at her as would a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into.

There's nothing missing from the basic construction.

Your example contains subject-auxiliary inversion, where the subject "a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into" and the auxiliary verb "would" have switched places.

The basic order would be:

When she opened her eyes she saw a harbor seal, twenty feet in front of her, staring at her as a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into would.

Incidentally, this is a comparative construction, and like most comparative clauses would a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into is obligatorily reduced. In full, it would be would a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into stare at her.

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The seal was staring [in the same way] as a calm dog would [stare] when she had just walked into its yard.

You are expected to 'understand' the missing words, which have been left out to make the sentence shorter.

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  • It might be worth emphasising that "she had" has also been abbreviated to "she'd". I assume these are the subject and verb in the relative clause, which OP asks about specifically. – Simon L Rydin Myerson Jul 6 at 20:54
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1)  I can't find the verb after "as would".

"Would" is verb enough.  What that verb means is dependent on the modificand of the prepositional phrase that "as" creates:

staring at her as would a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into [stare at her]
- or -
staring at her as a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into would [stare at her]

We might consider this to be an ellipsis, or we might regard the auxiliary as anaphoric.  Either way, the "missing" part is supplied by the phrase to which the entire prepositional phrase starting with "as" is attached.

The placement of "would" is flexible.  Bringing it to the front of the clause helps to mark the clause as subjunctive.  In this context, we have an actual seal and a hypothetical dog.

The embedded prepositional phrase "into whose yard she'd walked" isn't relevant to finding the antecedent of "would" (if we're calling it anaphoric) or its potentially redundant argument (if we're calling it elliptical).  Rather, it is relevant to the other part of your question.

 

2)  after the relative "whose", there should be a subject and verb.

There are.

a calm dog whose yard she'd walked into

This "yard" isn't the subject of anything.

Here, we have the modificand "a calm dog" and the relative clause "whose yard she'd walked into".  In the clause, "[had] walked" is the verb, and "she" is the subject.  "Into" is a preposition, and "whose yard" is the preposition's object.  It is as if she had walked into a calm dog's yard.

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"I can't find verb after "as would...","

You don't need one. In general, it is perfectly acceptable to assume that the preceding verb is implied. So, if you had a sentence such as, "Having encountered a venomous snake, he turned and ran, just as any reasonable person would run,", you can say instead, "Having encountered a venomous snake, he turned and ran, just as any reasonable person would".

Or, "He did what anyone would in such a situation" is read as "He did what anyone would do in such a situation"

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