Can I pass this sentence off as grammatical on the grounds that very European is an elliptical construction implying "which is very European"? From my understanding so far, the only requirement of an elliptical construction is that the meaning's not ambiguous. Is this correct?

  • Having written this whole question, you are clearly able to compose sentences and judge their grammaticality. So it seems to me you should do the same thing in judging the sentence about which you're asking. To me, I wouldn't write it that way, but then, I wouldn't report you to the authorities or anything if I saw it written that way somewhere, so maybe that makes it passable.
    – user85526
    Apr 30, 2015 at 7:00
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    I would probably replace your comma with an em-dash, but that's just my preference. Apr 30, 2015 at 7:12
  • It would be much more natural to say very Europeanly wouldn't it? Apr 30, 2015 at 8:06
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    If you say the sentence out loud, you'll hear that the intonation contour binding my fingers and very European doesn't sound like a comma intonation -- mid-hi-lo-mid, as in counting; fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven, ... Rather, it's a full-stop intonation on fingers, followed by an afterthought. That calls for either a semicolon or a dash in print; otherwise it's a comma splice. Apr 30, 2015 at 14:51
  • @curiousdannii That sounds much more strange to me. You can't just make any word an adverb.
    – Kimball
    May 2, 2015 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, you have an adjective that is not modifying anything. What is very European? This would be a comma splice. However, in written prose, comma splices are more than acceptable. Prose uses sentence fragments, comma splices, and other alleged grammatical misdemeanors without fault. The content of this sentence suggests that it was written for prose, and so the use of the thought, presented almost like a sentence adverb, is functional.

Two commented suggestions would turn this into a perfectly fine sentence grammatically: use an em-dash or change the adjective into an adverb.

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