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A colleague asked whether it was possible to begin a sentence with the word 'Comes', noting that there should, surely, be an 'It' first. Of course standard grammar requires it, as far as I can tell, and leaving out the pronoun makes the sentence sound weird.

On the other hand, I'm sure I've seen it done before, most likely within advertising (which this example is). Is there a decent explanation for why we can omit the pronoun?

  • There is the obvious "'Comes' is a word you should not use at the beginning of a sentence.", but I presume you are not asking about that sort of thing. – DJClayworth Jul 25 at 14:00
  • Purely in the non-sexual sense, if that's what you're getting at. "Comes with a 3-year guarantee", "Comes with a Li-On battery", "Comes in a posh box" etc. – Adam Josef K Hamilton Jul 25 at 14:02
  • Not in the slightest what I was getting at. I meant that you can 'cheat' by using 'comes' as a noun, meaning the word itself, and so write a grammatically correct sentence like I did above. – DJClayworth Jul 25 at 14:05
  • @AdamJosefKHamilton But is simply an example of ‘ellipse’ (where a word is left out (to be understood by the audience, even though unstated. Now ‘come’ is a different matter. If that is what the OP wants to know, he needs to rephrase the question. – Tuffy Jul 25 at 14:07
  • @DJClayworth How embarrassing of me. Disregard. – Adam Josef K Hamilton Jul 25 at 14:21
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There are at least two constructs where this can happen.

One is where you use the word 'Comes' (or any verb) as a noun referring to the word itself.

'Comes' is a word you can sometimes use at the beginning of a sentence.

The other is that English permits the asking of a question by reversing verb and subject, although it's a pretty archaic usage.

Comes there now the man who can make me king?

Shakespeare would have been fine with it, and probably up to about 200 years ago, but it does sound stilted to modern ears.

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    "Cometh the hour, cometh the man"; but that's not Shakespeare. – Andrew Leach Jul 25 at 20:27
  • That came to my mind too @AndrewLeach, and then I started looking up that phrase and no one seems to know its origin ... worthy of a question on here perhaps ... but it's late and I'm tired .... and someone will say "Well what research have you done?" ...zzzzzz – Mynamite Jul 25 at 22:52
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Legal documents sometimes begin with sentences that start "Comes now the Plaintiff......". IANAL but those documents I've seen are usually in response to a document their legal opponent has introduced to the court and sort of indicates the this is a new part of an existing continuing process.

Also, legal talk is not always strictly rational.

Along with the examples from Adam Josef K Hamilton it is plain that some people start sentences with 'Comes', but not that it is right to emulate them.

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