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Sacajawea, a Native American woman, whose ability to translate between indigenous languages and English was extremely helpful to the explorers, Louis and Clark, on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean.

In one of these videos http://www.veritasprep.com/free-sat-lessons/videos/on-demand.php#video this sentence is said to be grammatically incorrect, but where is the grammatical error? Can someone explain why the quoted sentence is incorrect ?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Drew, tchrist, ScotM, Centaurus Apr 19 '15 at 14:35

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

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    As a sentence it's not correct. It's just a long noun phrase (basically all adding further details about the "primary" noun Sacajawea). You could "fix" it by including a verb (such as by replacing the first comma with was). – FumbleFingers Apr 15 '15 at 17:24
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    That sentence no verb. – Matt Gutting Apr 15 '15 at 17:43
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    @FumbleFingers , As an isolated phrase, that is not a full MAJOR sentence, but within context, it could be a MINOR sentence. Refer en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Prem Apr 15 '15 at 17:51
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    @Kristina: in this context, was is part of a subordinate clause, and refers back to the "subordinate noun subject" ability - Main sentence as Matt says no verb, – FumbleFingers Apr 15 '15 at 17:55
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    @KristinaLopez "was" is the subject in the subordinate clause beginning with "whose" and ending with "ocean". The subordinate clause can't stand alone (though you could make a question out of it); in the context of the full utterance, that clause is basically an appositive describing "Sacajawea". – Matt Gutting Apr 15 '15 at 17:56
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The easiest way to check this sentence is to remove the qualifiers and see what the core says:

Sacajawea, a Native American woman, whose ability to translate between indigenous languages and English was extremely helpful to the explorers, Louis and Clark, on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean.

At this point it's now clear that there's no verb associated with "Sacajawea", which is the grammatical error.

Sacajawea, whose ability was helpful.

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    It should be noted that this is not a grammatical error: no actual rules of grammar is violated. It simply means, as Prem points out in his comment, that we’re not dealing with a fully-fledged major sentence. If the sentence were used as the caption to a photo of Sacajawea in a book, it would be perfectly fine. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 15 '15 at 21:47
  • Yes - as a caption, there's an implied "This is" as a subject and verb. – Joe McMahon Apr 21 '15 at 23:02