Understood Words. Understood words are common in English, and they usually aren’t very troublesome if we can mentally supply them. Often they occur at the outset of sentences. “More important” is short for “what is more important”; “as pointed out earlier” is short for “as was pointed out earlier.” In a compound sentence, parts of a verb phrase can carry over from the first verb phrase to the second, in which they are understood: “Gorbachev has demanded that Lithuania suspend the declaration of independence before the blockade can be lifted and talks begun.” (That sentence is considerably more elegant than it would have been if the second verb phrase, “talks begun,” had appeared in full: “talks can be begun.”)
Quotation of the Day: “The meaning of a word in a given period of a given language is a matter of usage, and the fact of its having had a certain meaning at some earlier period or in some cognate language does not necessarily afford any help in determining, and still less in remembering, its present meaning.” Henry Sweet, The Practical Study of Languages 88 (1900).
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