In the following sentence, I don't see that it is a complete sentence:

Conformity is a virtue, creativity suspect, humor forbidden and voice mute.

Can some one help me figure out how it can be grammatically correct? It seems to me that the verb is missing.

  • 1
    Is there more context?
    – Ramrod
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 7:33

2 Answers 2


A brief look in the google does not reveal the author of this sentence, and it is variously preceded by "In the legal profession", "In academia", and "In corporate America". The verbs are omitted from the succeeding elements in the list. This rhetorical device is called ellipsis. Better punctuation will help:

Conformity is a virtue; creativity, suspect; humor, forbidden; and voice, mute.

Now I'll add the implied, missing words in bold:

Conformity is a virtue. Creativity is suspect. Humor is forbidden. And voice is mute.

  • I would appreciate your explanation. It couldn't be clearer.
    – Haeun Lee
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 23:33

Your example is trickier than some, but it’s okay once you break it down. Grammatically, it’s a complex intransitive construction (S-P-PC) with the verb is followed by three coordinated predicative complements, each an NP, and where the final NP coordinate comprises a further coordination of two AdjPs modifying the noun:

Conformity is a [virtue], [creativity suspect], [humor forbidden and voice mute].

The nouns "virtue", "suspect" and "mute" are the heads of the three coordinated NPs.

The verb "be" is being used in its ascriptive sense, so that each coordinated NP is ascribing a property to the subject "conformity"

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