This clip of the movie 'Goosebumps' starts with the character Slappy saying this:

  1. All my friends in one place. I've never been so happy. I don't want this day to end. And it doesn't have to, as long as we get rid of Stine.

First, I'd like to know if "All my friends in one place" should be treated as a subordinate clause or not. If it should, then the transcript must be:

  1. All my friends in one place, I've never been so happy. I don't want this day to end. And it doesn't have to, as long as we get rid of Stine.

Which of the two is correct?

If (1) is correct, then can a verbless clause be an independent clause?

According to this earlier question and answers, all the examples of verbless clauses are subordinate clauses, and verbless clauses are said to be limited to subordinate clauses.

I have also looked at CGEL (The Cambridge Grammar by Huddleston and Pullum), and all instances of 'verbless clause' there are limited to subordinate clauses, as well.

Is Slappy's sentence a legitimate verbless clause even in the form of (1)?

  • 1
    It’s short for either, “I’ve got all of my friends in one place.” or “All of my friends are in one place.” He’s just stating the current conditions.
    – Jim
    Jan 30, 2017 at 4:45
  • 3
    You and a friend are out walking in the woods. Your friend screams "Snake!" and runs. You pull out your copy of CGEL (which I presume you're carrying with you), and while you're looking up instances of verbless clauses, the snake bites you. Now who's the smart one?
    – deadrat
    Jan 30, 2017 at 5:58
  • 1
    @deadrat Boomslang should never be considered acceptable. Jan 30, 2017 at 6:07
  • 1
    Even if the film were not for children, the image of 'All my friends in one place' is a picture in the mind. There is nothing necessarily missing. Jan 30, 2017 at 17:39
  • 1
    @JK2 -- All poetry allows for breaking rules. Here's a translation of a Hebrew poem: "A son, if I had one, one little boy, black curly hair and profound..." No verb in sight, but we get the speaker's imagination and longing. Jan 31, 2017 at 16:40

3 Answers 3


I would venture that neither 1 nor 2 is correct.
Attempting to create literature from motion picture dialog is very much akin to trying to "make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".
If there is a need to write what is spoken here, I think a plain, sober reporting of the words is required:

All my friends in one place......I've never been so happy.

There is no need to be concerned with grammar. The (......) is not an ellipsis of any sort, but a means to show a pause between vocalizations, which could be referred to a "clauses", but do not need to be called more than utterances. This could also be rendered:

All my friends in one place---------- I've never been so happy.

If there is a need of some sort to determine if All my friends in one place is a subordinate clause, then the determination is that if this were written English then this is a subordinate clause. It must be subordinate as there is no verb and no possible understood predicate without further words. In spoken English, some action or state of being can be understood with nuanced sounds or gestures, even if the words are absent.
Written English grammar is tricky enough; trying to apply that grammar to someone else's spoken English may only be useful as amusement.


Verbless clauses are sometimes quite appropriate. The following cases are all complete and it would be confusing even to think of adding a verb.

Titles: In the Slappy example, this is a day which is being given a label as a special day. As far back as Richard of St Victor students have been advised, if they wanted to remember something, to file it away in a mental compartment and label the compartment.

Little House on the Prairy.
The Day of the Triffids.
An early Victorian fork with a bone handle.
The Elements of Euclid.

Declarations: official and unofficial. A Declaration is an important part of making something happen (Factitive), and only certain significant people are allowed to make pronouncements and declarations. If the document had been called 'Various thoughts on human rights,' it would have been a different sort of document. So in this case Slappy is creating the occasion by an act of will, as in the following examples:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
No taxation without representation.
Buckingham Palace, the Queen's London residence.

An example of this in a foreign language (to which, incidentally, the learned men wished to add a verb, or so it is recorded Jn 19:21 λεγον οuν τῷ Πειλάτῳ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς τῶν Ἰουδαίων Μὴ γράφε Ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων, ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἐκεῖνος εἶπεν Βασιλεύς εἰμι τῶν Ἰουδαίων.) is the official declaration:

Jesus of Nazarus, King of the Jews.

Exclamations: A third usage is the exclamation; and perhaps that fits this situation best. These two examples (by Lewis Carroll, and Marcus Tullius Cicero) are both celebratory verbless clauses which have not been criticised as incomplete in the past.

'O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' He chortled in his joy
(Rome, fortunate for my birth, with me now Consul) =
O fortunatam natam, me consule, Romam.

In the Latin, the exclamation 'fortunate Rome' is in the accusative; the qualifying clause, 'me consule,' is ablative.

  • In addition to Deictic, Factitive, and Exclamatory, there are at least two other categories where Verbless Main Clauses are normal usage: Dictionary Definitions - 'Hammer n. a blunt instrument.' and Catalogues 'Iris, A.(from bulbs) 1, siberica; 2,reticulata. B (from rhizomes) etc.,'
    – Hugh
    Feb 4, 2017 at 5:57

This is a verbless copula clause construction with deictic function. It is not part of a subordinating construction. The only constituent of the clause is a noun phrase ("NP"), and the meaning is "There [be] NP." I.e., Here are all of my friends together in one place.

To prove it's a main clause, the easiest way is to show that it's not a subordinate clause. If it were a subordinate clause, it should behave as subordinate clauses do in any of the dozens of constructions that license them, with the semantics appropriate to the particular construction. But there are no subordinating constructions in English (metalinguistic uses don't count) that have a subordinating clause that is a simple verbless clause consisting of a single NP.

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