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In the movie Taken 3 (2015), one character is looking at a text message on a mobile phone, and he says to another character:

Text from your phone asking mom to meet you at the rancho Berrego the night she died. Someone used your phone.

Why is the verb asking in this sentence in the -ing form?

If the verb, ask, is in the continuous tense, why is there no “to be”?
And why should we use present continuous here, and not the simple past?

  • You should probably be asking this on English Language Learners, where I commend this answer to Should we always use “verb+ ing” structure after the verb “start”? In essence, people would tend to avoid Text to ask me to meet because of the "horror aequi" principle. Your particular example might be stretching things a bit - I suspect not everyone would accept that the gerund "works" there, but I have no problem with I'm going to ring her tomorrow asking for a date (which is syntactically equivalent). – FumbleFingers Sep 4 '15 at 23:57
  • @Majid, please clarify context. Is this a imperative from someone, telling you to "Text from your phone asking me to meet"? Or was it more like a simple statement: "I got a text from your phone asking me to meet"? – johnjps111 Sep 5 '15 at 11:50
  • What precisely is the context? Could you say where you read this? The more context and information you give, the more likely you will receive a helpful answer. Thank you. – Mari-Lou A Sep 5 '15 at 14:29
  • @Johnny strings , @ Mari-Lou A ,I saw that in "taken 3 " the movie....it was a text massage... – Majid Sep 5 '15 at 19:12
  • So, what happened afterwards? Did the person go and meet someone or did they call/text someone? – Mari-Lou A Sep 5 '15 at 20:47
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Here, "asking me to meet", is a participle phrase, which describes the text.

Participle phrases are discussed at grammar monster: http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/participle_phrases.htm

The phrase quoted may not be complete sentence, it could be a noun phrase. A sentence could be "I received a text from your phone asking me to meet". or if "Text" is considered to be an imperative, it makes a complete but rather uncomfortably (to me) phrased sentence.

  • ... and a search for 'participle phrase' here gives 387 results. This might just be a duplicate. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 4 '15 at 23:13
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    The "main verb" is text - it's an ordinary imperative construction, where the implied subject you is omitted. So it's a "complete sentence" by normal definitions. You might find it easier to imagine likely contexts if it was preceded by, say, When you're ready to talk about it, just text from your phone... – FumbleFingers Sep 4 '15 at 23:36
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    @FumbleFingers I read text as being synonymous with "message" The sentence being: "There's a text on your phone which is asking me to meet up with (somebody)" Let's pretend we know their name and say "...asking me to meet [up with] Tom" – Mari-Lou A Sep 5 '15 at 6:27
  • @Mari-Lou: Absent evidence to the contrary, we should assume OP understands the difference between a sentence and a noun phrase, so if he calls his text a sentence, we should assume that's how it's intended to be parsed. Incidentally, even if we substitute message for text, that could still be an imperative verb usage - Here's my mobile phone number. Message me when you arrive at the station, and I'll come and pick you up. – FumbleFingers Sep 5 '15 at 12:29
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    @FumbleFingers Actually, having looked up the quote, Mari-Lou and James (and myself) interpreted the sentence correctly. It's someone pointing to a mobile phone with a text on it, explaining to someone else: “Text from your phone asking mom to meet you at the rancho Berrego the night she died. Someone used your phone.” The fact that it was misquoted in the question doesn't help, of course; but whether this, which is used as a standalone sentence, syntactically qualifies as one or not is not something we can expect especially new users to know. To most people, native or no, it's a sentence. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 5 '15 at 22:33

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