Peter senses his father's danger and tries to reach him, but is forced to watch helplessley as his father is driven away.

Her father struggles with complex emotions about the child he raised as his own, but to who he behaves in an unfatherly manner.

It was also a commercial success, but did not perform as well at the box office as the first film.

I understand there is an implied repetition of the subject in the bolded parts of the sentence but where do they stand grammatically as they are alone and is the comma neccessary?

Are they sentence fragments or clauses ?

*is forced to watch helplessley as his father is driven away, for instance?

  • 1
    They're clauses with ellipsis of the subject. The comma is standard before but (when used as a conjunction). PS in your second example it should be "but towards whom he behaves". – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Dec 13 '18 at 0:24

They are not sentence fragments. Each sentence consists of two clauses connected by the conjunction but. In such a case, unless the subject if the second clause is different, then it is automatically assumed to be the same as that of the first. (Notice how the same applies to “that of the first” in the previous sentence: the structure, with “of the second clause, followed by “of the first, requires that the ‘missing’ noun is understood to be clause.

In your examples, you can either leave them as they are, or use a definite article (he/she/it etc.) or repeat Peter, etc. But would it be objectionably repetitive?

In your examples, no. Repetition is a matter of style, not of grammar. Some repetition is clumsy or tiresome:

My trousers are brown, and my trousers are tight, and my trousers fit me perfectly.

This is a real clunker. It says repetitively what could just as well be expressed as:-

My trousers are brown, tight and fit me perfectly.

But the faults are stylistic, though the repetition of ‘and’ is a breach of convention.

Not only does repetition have nothing to do with grammar, it can be rhetorically and poetically effective.

Alone, alone, all, all alone, Alone on a wide wide sea! And never a saint took pity on My soul in agony. (Coleridge Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner)

This Senate is tired of your lying, tired of your deceit but above all this Senate is tired of your grossly unjustified arrogance. (made up as far as I know)

These repetitions reinforce a picture, a feeling or an image. They are a matter of taste, except to say that Coleridge’s is sublime and mine is anything but.

  • This is a good explanation of repetition, but it doesn't address the question, which is "Are they sentence fragments or clauses?" The OP clearly states that she understands the "implied repetition of the subject". – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Dec 13 '18 at 0:20
  • @Chappo You are right. So I have edited my answer and shall read questions more carefully in future. – Tuffy Dec 13 '18 at 9:34
  • Happy to reward your effort: I've reversed my downvote to an upvote - net turnaround +2! :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Dec 13 '18 at 10:01

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