I'm trying to classify the following sentence as compound, complex or compound-complex:

These are: a book with drawings, a man holding a picture and a statue.

I think it's a complex sentence, because I think it has an independent clause (These are) and three dependent clauses (a book with drawings, a man holding a picture, a statue).

However, the regular words that start a subordinate clause aren't there, so I'm feeling like I'm missing something.

  • 2
    Maybe I'm missing something, but to me it looks like a simple sentence that just lists three things.
    – user139454
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 0:53
  • When the listed things are described using several words, doesn't that make them clauses?
    – nitzanms
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 8:04
  • I don't think so.
    – user139454
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 20:26
  • A clause requires a subject-verb relationship. Simply adding words to a description does not make a clause ("a car" is not a clause; neither is "a green car" or "an old green car" or "an incredibly valuable old green car." @user139454 is correct--this is a simple sentence that lists three things. More below.
    – user66965
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


This is a complex sentence. There are 3 kinds of sentences: simple ones; compound ones, which have more than one independent clause; and complex ones, which include an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. See more at ENGL 1001.

This sentence contains the dependent clause "holding a picture," so it's complex.

  • Isn't "a man holding a picture" a clause? It has a subject (a man) and a predicate (holding a book).
    – nitzanms
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 12:09
  • Argh, you're right. Fixed.
    – Maverick
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 15:07
  • So it's enough to have a dependent clause, and it doesn't matter if the words that usually start a dependent clause are there?
    – nitzanms
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 14:21
  • 1
    Right. ENGL 1001 has its definition, and I'd go with that, but it makes sense: a sentence doesn't change because you omit some understood words. "The reason I gave" is a noun with a modifying relative clause, even if we left out "that" ("The reason that I gave").
    – Maverick
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 16:16
  • @nitzanms "holding a picture" is not a predicate, because "holding" does not function as a verb. It functions as an adjective (it describes which man is being referred to--the one "holding the book"). The "man holding a picture" is a participial phrase, not a clause.
    – user66965
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 21:09

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