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https://www.flickr.com/photos/islandyorkie/14757675659/

This warning, or similar, is on most every school bus I've seen.

It bothers me because I can't find the verb in the when phrase. I assume "flashing" is a gerund form, and the sentence is missing the verb are.

Have I misinterpreted this? Is this construction used in other situations?

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    OK, so maybe they should have talked to an English teacher at a school on the route. But these kinds of constructions are common in signage, headlines, and other places where space is at a premium. I prefer "Do not pass when signals flash." I think it's kinda catchy.
    – deadrat
    Sep 17 '15 at 8:12
  • It is telegram text where you economise on words (People probably don't remember telegrams, when you paid by the word). But clearly it is saying Do not pass when signals (ARE) flashing.
    – WS2
    Sep 17 '15 at 8:16
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    "Do not pass when signals flash" is not only shorter but makes perfect sense. I wonder why "flashing" was opted for.
    – James
    Sep 17 '15 at 8:25
  • Road signs are rarely grammatical, or even unambiguous. They fall into the same category as advertising slogans - catch the eye quickly.
    – Chenmunka
    Sep 17 '15 at 8:33
  • Call me old-fashioned, but I still hold schools to a higher standard than marketing wonks. No, I take that back—I'm just as perturbed by billboards as by buses. Sep 17 '15 at 8:39
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Do not pass when signals flashing.

I can't find the verb in the when phrase. I assume "flashing" is a gerund form, and the sentence is missing the verb are.

Update: 17 Sep 2015 - The question was edited after I cut and paste the above from it.

You are right about the missing verb. The full sentence would be:

Do not pass when the signals are flashing.

However in that case 'flashing' is not a gerund, it is a present participle.

There is a useful discussion on the difference here. THE -ING FORMS edufind.com

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