I encountered this sentence in Cambridge Dictionary:

The ground was hard and the rime thick and crisp on the grass.

I can't figure it out why there's no any verb after "the rime". It just doesn't make sense to me.

"The ground was hard" - that's ok. "The rime (was??) thick and crisp on the grass" - why is there such an omission of the verb?

Considering the fact that the sentence is actually provided as an example for the word "rime" on the Cambridge website, so i'm sure it's correct, but i've literally no idea what that thing means.

English is not my native, so for me it's still pretty difficult to comprehend these things.


2 Answers 2


It's quite normal in English, when two short parallel clauses need the same verb, for that verb not to be repeated:

I wore a blue dress and my sister a red one.

Peter was born in Scotland and Paul in England.

instead of

I wore a blue dress and my sister wore a red one.

Peter was born in Scotland and Paul was born in England.

. It would not be wrong to repeat the verb, but English speakers find that the sentence sounds better without it.

  • 8
    I would add that English teachers in non English-speaking countries tend to teach that in English you must put a verb there. This is common in Italy (especially in basic or mid-level courses, or in schools) and often this "rule" is explained by contrasting it with Italian language, where such omissions are common. May 10, 2023 at 19:55
  • 13
    As an American (specifically: California), I can corroborate that this is not inherently a Britishism. While the first example sentence sounds better with "wore" repeated, it sounds perfectly grammatical to me either way. The second example sentence would also sound perfectly grammatical either way, but feels more native-English-speaker to me the way it's phrased above.
    – neminem
    May 10, 2023 at 22:42
  • 15
    This is known in linguistics as ellipsis, specifically as gapping. Ellipsis is also the name of the punctuation mark "", which I imagine to be very confusing for English students. May 10, 2023 at 23:12
  • 5
    I think this style of dropping the verb after the first parallel clause is more likely to be found in highbrow literature and carefully prepared speeches. I really don't hear this omission in conversational speech. I think a good reason is that it exercises short term memory harder, increasing the chance for confusion.
    – Nayuki
    May 11, 2023 at 6:05
  • 4
    "Quite normal" is, as all things are, relative. Spoken English shows this phenomenon, but it is rare. Spoken German, for instance, makes much more use of it, and Japanese can use gaps that span three or four levels of syntactic relation, and that Westerners initially find almost undecipherable. May 11, 2023 at 16:17

I believe that this is a style indicative of dialog or verse that reduces words for brevity and familiarity. Which that last sentence certainly did not..

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