It's from DH Lawrence's sons an lovers.

“Did a lady call for me yesterday, mother?” he asked.

“I don't know about a lady. There was a girl came.”

“And why didn't you tell me?”

“Because I forgot, simply.”

He fumed a little.

“A good-looking girl—seemed a lady?”

“I didn't look at her.”

  • Note, this is 100-year-old dialogue, unique to its time, place, and demographic. It would not sound natural in modern conversation. (That's also true of several other sentences—putting "simply" at the end, omitting "she" in "seemed a lady.") Feb 8, 2022 at 19:51
  • I'm hesitant to answer. The easy answer is that a way to understand it is as "there was a girl who came," but I'm not sure that that's the most official way of explaining the grammar, or whether "came" is acting more as a participle. It's a very old construction; there's a book called "There Was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard," and the title is a line from Shakespeare. Feb 8, 2022 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


Like many of Lawrence's characters, they talk in Nottinghamshire dialect. He was born in 1885 in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, and spent his formative years there (until 1908). The sound and structural patterns of the local speech are evident throughout his work. Consider "There was a girl came" to mean "There was a girl that came" in standard English.

Accent & Dialect In The Work Of D. H. Lawrence

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