This might seem like a weird question, but how is the sentence:

This land is peaceful, its inhabitants kind.

grammatically correct?

Shouldn't it be "...its inhabitants are kind"? The sentence is from a game called Dark Souls, it's from 2011, and it's very popular so I assume it's not a grammatical error, because if it's really an error it should've been fixed. So how is it correct?

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? It's closely related, though with progressive constructions. Chekhov and the omission of "be" verbs with progressive tenses in compound sentences. Your sentence is correct, though in a literary register ... even though the form of 'be' deleted differs from that in the main clause. Jun 1, 2020 at 16:00
  • @EdwinAshworth So the is after "This land" is a double duty for the omitted are after "inhabitants"? Jun 1, 2020 at 16:05
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    You can consider it that way. English isn't perfectly behaved. You can look up 'gapping'. Jun 1, 2020 at 16:07
  • My brother had been smoking ganja again. His hair was dishevelled, his clothes awry, his eyes glazed. Jun 1, 2020 at 17:19
  • 1
    As noted, it's correct. Note that some stylists would require a comma in the gap: This land is peaceful, its inhabitants, kind. Jun 1, 2020 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


It's parallelism or, in particular, syllepsis.

It's somewhat artistic poetical figure of speech.

As to grammaticality, sure, people will look at you weird if you use it in speech. But if you're writing a novel then, sure, it's fine.

It's not a special rule of English. All languages allow this kind of parallelism. From Latin:

Fur furem, lupus lupum cognoscit.

"It takes a thief to know a thief, a wolf another wolf."


According to Ross, an acceptable sentence involving gapping is 4a' below:

4a) I want to try to begin to write a novel and Mary wants to try to begin to write a play.


4a') I want to try to begin to write a novel and Mary a play.

(Ross 1970 ) [UCLA: Linguistics: Gapping]

So in the gapped (deleted) form, a different verb form (wants) from that in the first independent clause (want) is acceptably omitted.

'This land is peaceful, its inhabitants kind.' is of a literary register. One would expect an expanded, more prosaic version to contain 'and' (or conceivably a semicolon) as well as 'are'.

A related though not identical example is analysed at Chekhov and the omission of "be" verbs with progressive tenses in compound sentences..

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