For lack of a better understanding, I'm going to call the following chaining:

10011111 in binary is 237 in octal is 159 in decimal is 9F in hexadecimal

While I understand the sentence and its structure, I'm curious as to

  1. Whether it's a grammatically correct sentence structure
  2. If (1), what's it called? Is this a complex sentence?
  • The sentence would sound and read better if it were modified to read: > 10011111 in binary is 237 in octal, 159 in decimal, and 9F in hexadecimal. – Shamayeta Jul 5 '14 at 7:26
  • 2
    The people who have answered with a "better" way of writing this are missing what I believe is deliberate playfulness in this anomalous expression, exemplified in famous A cigar is a cigar is a cigar. I think it's grammatical, but it is anomalous, and I suspect that some grammatical theories will be unable to generate it. – Colin Fine Jul 5 '14 at 12:04
  • I think, @ColinFine, the famous precedent is Gertrude Stein's "a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," which you may have conflated with the possibly apocryphal Sigmund Freud line "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." – Brian Donovan Jul 5 '14 at 12:50
  • Thank you, Brian, you're quite right. I was thinking it was Dorothy Parker, and went looking in Wikiquote for her and cigars. I'd forgotten both Stein and roses. – Colin Fine Jul 5 '14 at 16:03
  • @ColinFine - you're spot on here. I'm not looking for the "correct" form; I'm asking about the sentence, as-is. Like you've asserted, I suspect the author of the article I got that from was just being facetious with that sentence – kolossus Jul 5 '14 at 17:24

To answer your second question first: yes. Your sentence meets my definition of a 'complex sentence', part of which (my definition that is) is that the sentence contains one or more subordinate clauses which are not themselves able to stand alone as sentences. This is a matter of definition of the grammatical term 'complex sentence'. But there are other grammars and other definitions which your sentence might not meet.

As for your first question, yes it is grammatical, but it is quite difficult to parse, I had to read it twice to get what it means. Having an aversion to sentences which start with digits I'd rewrite it completely, and I'd follow @Shamayeta in putting in a few commas to clarify the structure. Something like:

"The binary number 10011111 is written 237 in octal, 159 in decimal, and 9F in hexadecimal."

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