Is this sentence - " that we’re a kind of Venn diagram come to life"- correct?

As I know, this is an object clause, and at here "we" is the subject and "a kind of Venn diagram" is the predicative. So the clause can be basically narrowed down to "we’re a kind of Venn diagram". Since "come" is a transitive verb and can't be regarded as a past participle here, taking into account that "come to life" describes "Venn diagram", if it is more accurate to reframe the clause to "that we’re a kind of Venn diagram coming to life"?

I think it’s time we move beyond the historical quest to find a single theory of individuality to explain how the biological world is divided up. What you are trying to grasp – be it development, physiology or evolution – determines the interactions that will be important for figuring out the boundaries of a creature. There isn’t one single answer to the question of where to draw the limits of my body. We are in constant interaction with the organisms living in and upon us – a locus of biotic relations and overlapping borders. If you relax and try to imagine every facet at once, you’ll see that we’re a kind of Venn diagram come to life. I’m looking forward to the day I get to share this with my daughter – perhaps the next time we go to the aquarium to look at the coral, and she points and asks: ‘What’s that?’

source: AEON - Life is not easily bounded

  • " that we’re a kind of Venn diagram [which has] come to life" It's just a kind of contracted relative clause: The people [who had been] questioned were all released later. Oct 28, 2017 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


One minor clarification: that's a clause, not a sentence. It wouldn't make sense on its own. But yes, it is correct and idiomatic.

Yes, come is a past participle here. Participles, either present or past, can be used like adjectives, for example:

The cookies baking in the oven smell good.
The cookies eaten by my brother were intended for Aunt Sarah.

You can think of the participle as having an invisible "that is/are/were/was" or "that have/has":

The cookies (that are) baking in the oven smell good.
The cookies (that were) eaten by my brother were intended for Aunt Sarah.

The sentence you're asking about is the same way:

...we're a kind of Venn diagram (that has) come to life.

If you used "coming to life", it would mean that we are a Venn diagram that is in the process of coming to life, not one that has already come to life.

To come to life is kind of an idiomatic phrase that means "to begin to work" or "to become lively and exciting" or simply "to change from a non-living thing to a living thing". It's much more common to see "come to life" than "coming to life".


I'm not sure if I would classify this as an idiom or as an ellipsis. The phrase "come to life" could be considered short for "That has come to life", but "come to life" itself is an idiomatic expression that means something inanimate has become animate or alive.

As the blue fairy waved her wand, the puppet came to life and and became a real boy.

In this use, it's an adjective phrase modifying "a Venn diagram". I agree it sounds a little awkward, but it doesn't need to be changed.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .