What Is a Verbless Clause?

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

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In English grammar, a verbless clause is a clause-like construction in which a verb element is implied but not present. Such clauses are usually adverbial, and the omitted verb is a form of be. Also known as a free adjunct (or a free adjunct without a verbal form) and a nominal sentence.

See Examples and Observations below.

Examples and Observations

  • "Verbless clauses are clauses which contain no verb element, and often also no subject. They are regarded as clauses because they function in ways which make them equivalent to finite and non-finite clauses and because they can be analyzed in terms of one or more clause elements."
    (Geoffroy Leech and Jan Svartvik, A Communicative Grammar of English, 1975)
  • "A verbless clause . . . is considered a clause because it is dealing with a separate piece of information in relation to the main clause. For example, in the sentence, In the interests of the local children, the council should reconsider its decision, there are two separate pieces of information: the main clause--the council should reconsider its decision; and a dependent clause that deals with issues that interest local children. In this clause, however, the verb has been nominalised resulting in a verbless clause. Verbless clauses are different from adverbial phrases. The latter provide some information to do with the time, place, or manner in which something happens within an existing clause. Verbless clauses, on the other hand, provide a separate piece of information outside of an existing clause."
    (Peter Knapp and Megan Watkins, Genre, Text, Grammar: Technologies for Teaching and Assessing Writing. UNSW Press, 2005)