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I am having trouble understading the following sentence, which is extracted from the NYT:

Even those who have spent the last 14 years pining for a sequel to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” — by most accounts, the highest-grossing American romantic comedy — will rue that longing when they experience “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” The imagination expended on the title being a fair indicator of how much was lavished on the rest of this embarrassingly awful retread.

I cannot find a principal verb in this sentence, confused by the structure. Can anyone please explain?

Thank you in advance!

  • The example doesn't look like a complete sentence to me, but the main verb is expended. – Lawrence Apr 3 '16 at 9:05
  • It's an absolute construction that's become unanchored from the previous sentence. If by "principal verb", you mean the verb of an independent clause, there isn't one. Even were it attached, it would still be confusing because it's dangling -- it doesn't apply to the subject. – deadrat Apr 3 '16 at 9:21
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    Down/close voted for not quoting the context. – Hot Licks Apr 3 '16 at 10:37
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    @deadrat If being is changed to is to make the quote a proper sentence, how would you answer the question? – Lawrence Apr 3 '16 at 12:57
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    @Lawrence Then it would have the basic structure of Subject NP (with head imagination) V (is) Nom Compl NP (with head indicator). Imagination is modified by the reduced relative clause ([that was] expended). Indicator is modified by the prepositional phrase with of, the object of which is the clause introduced by the relative conjunction how. – deadrat Apr 3 '16 at 17:15
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You needed to quote the full context (below). It's a cumbersome paragraph/sentence with one main verb - rue. Although the sentence in your OP is separated from the previous text by a full stop, it is, actually, an adjectival sub-clause providing a striking example of why 'piners' will likely be ruing their long-held enthusiasm for a sequel.

Even those who have spent the last 14 years pining for a sequel to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” — by most accounts, the highest-grossing American romantic comedy — will rue that longing when they experience “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” The imagination expended on the title being a fair indicator of how much was lavished on the rest of this embarrassingly awful retread.

  • Thank you, Dan! I just wonder, can you make an adjectival sub-clause be seperated from the main clause with a full stop? Is it a widely-used structure or the writer of the article used it intentionally? – Luxembourg Apr 3 '16 at 10:47
  • @Luxembourg - I don't detect a rat in that sentence. I should. – Hot Licks Apr 3 '16 at 11:25
  • @Luxembourg - My guess is that the author realised as they were writing (dictating?) that the sentence was getting out of control. Perhaps they felt that a full stop would help to restore 'order'. Or maybe they took a pause for breath and the software inserted a full stop which they failed to notice/correct. I'm not much of a stickler for rules, but in this case I reckon the full stop should be something less 'final' - a colon perhaps? In fact, reading it a few times it is clear that the whole thing really is an impressionistic first draft. It needs licking into shape! – Dan Apr 3 '16 at 13:38
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    It's an orphaned part of the previous sentence, but adjectival modifiers don't answer why questions. If the clause read Since the makers of the movie expended as little effort on the movie as they did on the title, I'd say it was an adverbial clause of reason, but with the absolute construction imagination being, it's hard for me to see that. – deadrat Apr 3 '16 at 17:23
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    @Dan Indeed, and the editor (assuming there was one) should have ruthlessly blue-pencilled the draft (assuming there was one) to indicate something along the lines you've suggested. It might be useful to have an answer that discusses the structure of the fragment and why it's wrong as it stands and why it would be wrong were it joined unchanged to the previous sentence. But I'm not sure the OP would agree, and as you can see, I haven't volunteered for the task. – deadrat Apr 4 '16 at 10:03

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