I begun reading the book by Dashiell Hammett "The Maltese Falcon". And first sentence confused me.

Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.

Why the phrase a jutting v follow after noun chin? Should auxiliary verb is be between?


1 Answer 1


It is called an 'appositive', which means placed after.

It is very common that one noun phrase is simply placed after another to provide more information about the first. You did so yourself in the question with "The Maltese Falcon" simply placed after "the book by Dashiell Hammett".

  • Appositives are usually offset with commas, brackets, or dashes.
    – Max Zueff
    Dec 6, 2018 at 18:29
  • @Max Zueff They often are offset, but not necessarily. The same principle applies to them as for relative clauses: if they are restrictive (essential information), then no offset should be used, but if non-restrictive they should be. I would say there should be comma after 'chin' for that reason: what follows is non-restrictive. However, there should not be a comma before "The Maltese Falcon" because that is restrictive. Dec 7, 2018 at 18:46
  • Okay. I have additional question. Can you name clauses in this sentence? I found 4 clause: (1) Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony; (2) his chin; (3) a jutting v; (4) under the more flexible v of his mouth.
    – Max Zueff
    Dec 7, 2018 at 19:39
  • I will try. (1) is the main clause of the sentence. (2) I classify as on parenthetic phrase adding a non-essential detail to the main clause. It is a noun phrase. (3)+(4) I classify as a non-restrictive appositive provided more information about (2). (3) I classify as a noun phrase. (4) I classify as a prepositional phrase modifying (3) ... but I do not claim to be an expert on classifying the components of sentences. I claimed I could recognise and name one element of a particular sentence. Dec 7, 2018 at 20:09
  • T h a n k _ y o u
    – Max Zueff
    Dec 8, 2018 at 14:51

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