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I was watching something and someone said this

Interior, Outer Space. A distopian future. The year is 1000. An astronaut floats in. His eyes are average, his face fine.

"His face fine" sounds like it is skipping the word "is", like something a caveman would say. Is this good English or was this a mistake?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"His face is fine" <- that "is" is implied in the previous are.

Consider the following:

His eyes are blue, his hair white and his coat long.

When being poetic, you don't need the remaining is/are, no matter how many are followed by the first one, which already implies itself to the rest of the sentence.

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thanks, could you say "His eyes blue, his hair white, and his coat long"? –  Limb0x0y Oct 14 '11 at 5:28
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I'd say that, on its own, this wouldn't constitute a sentence as it doesn't contain a verb. You could, however write/say: "His eyes blue, his hair white, and his coat long, John made a striking impression." –  Matt Oct 14 '11 at 7:11
    
There is a verb. The verb is "are". –  Urbycoz Oct 14 '11 at 7:20
    
@QUrbycoz: I was answering Limb0x0y's comment. –  Matt Oct 14 '11 at 12:09

It's a perfectly normal construction, forms of which are found in many languages. It is one form of Ellipsis.

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It's fine, it's a stylistic choice. Usually there's a pause (and a comma) between "face" and "fine".

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5  
-1: I don't agree that usually there's a pause and certainly not a comma. Furthermore, it has nothing to do with what the OP is asking and if he's a beginner, this may only further confuse him. –  RiMMER Oct 14 '11 at 5:16
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I think there is an implied pause in OP's example, and in most corresponding usages. In some ways the stylistic choice here is not to include it, forcing the reader to reflect more on exactly what the words are intending to convey. After all, you do need to think a bit to figure out what "fine" might mean when used to describe an astronaut's face. –  FumbleFingers Nov 23 '11 at 1:26

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