Mio smirked, her eyebrows drooped.

Mio smirked with drooped eyebrows.

Is there any difference between the two (semantically or stylistically speaking)? Or they are exactly the same?


Semantically, the first would indicate that the two things (smirk and drooped eyebrows) are separate occurrences, while the second would imply they are simultaneous and connected.

That said, both would be considered strange, as "drooping" is not something usually associated with eyebrows. Lowered, dropped, arched, cocked, furrowed, raised sure, drooped ... not so much. Drooping is usually associated with lazy or defeated posture, sagging structures, wilting plants and floppy animal ears.


As the answer by Gwyn points out, "drooped" is an unusual term to apply to eyebrows. so I will use "raised" instead. The grammatical issues are the same.

  • 1 Mio smirked, her eyebrows raised.
  • 2 Mio smirked with raised eyebrows.

1 has two possible although related meanings. "raised" can be an adjective, describing the position or shape of the eyebrows, or it can be a verb, describing an action tha the eyebrows took. These two senses might be expressed by:

  • 1A Mio smirked with her eyebrows raised.
  • 1B Mio smirked as her eyebrows raised.

1A describes the position of the eyebrows at the moment that she engaged in smirking. It may also imply that the position of her eyebrows was all or part of the way in which she shows that she was smirking.

1B describes the motion of the eyebrows at the moment that the smirking occurred. The raising of the eyebrows might well have been part of the means of displaying the smirking attitude, or they might have been in contrast to a smirking smile.

2 is expression mush the same thought as 1A.

All of thye sentences, 1, 1A, !B and 2 are grammatical, and perfectly acceptable.


Note that smirk, as both a noun and a very, has a range of meaning. The most common sense refers to a particular kind of smile. As Collins puts it:

  • to smile in a conceited, knowing, or annoyingly complacent way (or "a smile of this kind")
  • to smile in an affected, smug, or offensively familiar way (or "the facial expression of a person who smirks ")

But smirk can also refer to any expression which conveys a concieted, knowing, smug or contemptuous attitudfe, whether by means of a smile or in soem other was. As Yoir Dictionary puts it:

To smirk is to make a conceited and arrogant facial expression or to smile in an arrogant way.

The word "smirk" originally comes from the same root as "smile" but it has cone to mean a particular attitude and the expression that accompanies it, which may involve more than teh mouth.


Additionally from a grammar standpoint, this sentence parses nonsensically. Your action or verb word "Smirked" is something that one does with their mouth... the sentence has a read that her eyebrows are smirking while drooped... which is odd that not only eyebrows can smirk. It might be prudent to add a conjunctive clause so that we know that the two actions are independent. Remember your sentence structure: Your subject (She) performs a verbal action (Smirked) directed at a predicate noun (with eyebrows) (drooped would be a predicate adjective describing eyebrows).

She smirked, and yet her eyebrows were drooped.

Here, we separated the two body parts a little to let the reader know that both are acting simultaneously, but not unusually such as smirking eyebrows. The clause "She smirked" is an independent idea and could be broken into a separate sentence, as could be the clause "Her eyebrows were drooped". In the first clause the subject "she" performs the action "smirked" and there is an implied predicate in that the action is directed at an unknown element from a separate sentence. In the second clause, the subject "eyebrows" performs the verbal action "were" ("were" is third person past tense form of the verb "To Be"... essentially existing in a state of), and "drooped" is a predicate adjective describing the state they exist in. The clause "and yet" is conjunctive and joins the two separate thoughts into a single thought (Conjunction Junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses).

TL;DR: You provided a simple sentence trying to rush two different thoughts/actions into a single idea. A simple sentence should describe a singular thought/action... a paragraph or complex sentence (two or more simple sentences combined with a conjunctive clause) should describe multiple thoughts/actions, depending on the complexity of all thoughts/actions one event requires.

  • 2
    "Mio smirked, (while) her eyebrows drooped." Seems sensical to me. In fact, you find this type of construction very often. (It's just that "while" was omitted. Hence the comma.) – Alexandro Chen Mar 8 at 14:17
  • @AlexandroChen That could work too... And the sentence is fine if it was used in dialog as people do not speak with correct grammar and doing so sounds unnatural. I just zoomed in on this being a sentence in the narrative portion of the story, where grammar matters. – hszmv Mar 8 at 15:04
  • "Mr. Vandemar looked around at Croup, satisfied, his hand still pinned to the wall." This in the narrative portion of the story of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. – Alexandro Chen Mar 8 at 16:38
  • 1
    @Alexandro Chen I must disagree with this answer on several levels. Smirking is a matter of attitude, and can be shown by any or all parts of the face or indeed the body, it is not limited to the mouth. And a sentence that is grammatically simple can indeed carry multiple ideas, and sometimes this works well – David Siegel Mar 8 at 22:00

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