They are not ever jealous for the cause, but jealous for they’re jealous. It is a monster begot upon itself, born on itself.

In this example, are both of the sentences simple sentences? The first I think is compound. I'm not sure about the second one. Can anyone clarify for me?

  • 2
    It looks like an example of asyndeton to me. – Damkerng T. Jun 3 '15 at 4:11
  • @DamkerngT.: Today I learned: what that's called. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 3 '15 at 4:13
  • To @user20181, this question could be easier to answer if you tell us about the grammar textbook you use, so the answerers can be sure about the definitions of simple sentence, compound sentence, complex sentence, and so on. This may sound odd: why do we need their definitions? shouldn't everyone agree what a simple sentence is? IMHO, dealing with advanced sentences is usually done not in terms of sentences, but in terms of clauses, predicates, and so on. Here are some examples of what I'd argue they're simple sentences: She comes see me. He'll go and buy it. I like it hotter than that. – Damkerng T. Jun 3 '15 at 7:07

Simple sentences contain only one clause. Your sentences both contain two clauses, so they are either compound or complex. The difference between those two types is that compound sentences contain clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction such as and or a comma while a complex sentence links its clauses with a subordinating conjunction (that, who,...).

Your first sentence is complex. But is a subordinating conjunction. The first clause is your main clause and what follows the but is your subclause.

Your second sentence is a compound sentence. However, this may not be clear due to ellipsis. A large part of the second clause is omitted.

The two can also be combined into a compound complex or a complex compound sentence, but that is not applicable here.

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As I parse it, the first sentence is complex.  The matrix clause has one subject, one verb, and two complements.  They are coordinate complements joined by the correlative conjunction "not ... but".

Subject: they
Verb: are
Complement 1: ever jealous for the cause
Complement 2: jealous for they're jealous

Inside the second complement is another clause.  The subject and verb of this clause are contracted: "they're".  The conjunction "for" attaches the clause "they're jealous" to the preceding word "jealous".  The subordinate clause fulfills the function of an adverb, supplying a cause or purpose to the adjective.


The second sentence, although complicated, is not complex -- at least, not when I parse it.  There is only one clause.  It has one subject, one verb, and one complement with two participial modifiers.

Subject: it
Verb: is
Simple Complement: a monster

"Begot upon itself" is a participial phrase.  The "begot" is a non-finite verb.  It doesn't have a tense, it doesn't require a subject, and it doesn't form a clause.  "Born on itself" is the same.  Each of these phrases modifies the word "monster".

There do exist analytical frameworks which insist that non-finite verb forms do create clauses.  I don't use such a framework because I find that to be an unnecessary complication.  If you are using such a framework, then you'll have to consider your second sentence as a complex sentence with two subordinate clauses.  If your framework is like mine, then you should consider your second example as a simple sentence with two participial phrases in the complete subject complement.

Regardless of whether the sentence is simple or complex -- that is, whether the participles form phrases or clauses -- the sentence contains asyndetic coordination.  "Begot upon itself" and "born on itself" are joined by a comma.  Syndetic coordination would use a conjunction between those two constituents: "begot upon itself and born on itself".

Even though there are coordinate elements, and even if you consider those elements to be clauses, those elements are not independent clauses.  For that reason, neither one of your example sentences count as compound sentences.

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I would say the second sentence is a compound sentence, too. Compound sentences use coordination. The means of coordinating two clauses can be a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, yet) or simply arranging two clauses one after the other, mostly separated by a semi-colon, but often also simply by a comma.

It is a monster begot upon itself, (it is a monster) born on itself.

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I would analyse the first sentence as a clause complex containing three clauses (clause separation indicated by '||'), and the second sentence as a clause simplex (simple sentence) which has a nominal group modified by an embedded clause (indicated by '[[ ]]'). The embedded clause actually contains two clauses, but they are both functioning as modifiers of 'a monster' and so it is one simple sentence.

(They) (are not) (ever) (jealous) (for the cause), || but (they) (are) (jealous) || for (they)(’re) (jealous).

(It) (is) (a monster [[begot upon itself, || born on itself]] ).

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