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Could a sentence like this one below be proper?

"She was sleeping or in some other state of repose."

'Was' forms the past continuous tense in this case, can it still work as a normal verb - to be - in the following part of a sentence?

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It is proper. It is an example of a parallel construction.

She was sleeping or (she was) in some other state of repose.

The repeated words can be omitted, even though "was" is an auxiliary verb in the first, and a main verb in the second clause.

However you are permitted to repeat the words for clarity, and many speakers would do so.

More doubtful would be

She has rested and a big smile. (??)

Strict parallelism would allow this to mean "She has rested and she has big smile" I don't think any native speaker would say this.

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  • I think perhaps "has" in the sense of making a perfect tense and "has" in the sense of possessing something are two different meanings of "has", and you can't really do the parallel thing (except, perhaps, as a little joke) unless the words are not only the same word but the same meaning.
    – A. B.
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 8:35

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