The clause "reputation its shadow" in "Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow" has no verb, but is still correct. Please kindly tell me the grammar point used here!

2 Answers 2


It is a shortened expression. Instead of using "is" two times, one shortly after the other, the second "is" is dropped and the meaning does not become unclear. Read the sentence as:

Character is like a tree and reputation (is) its shadow.

  • The request is for a grammar point in use, vs. what it means. "shortening" seems to have another meaning. Feb 24, 2016 at 6:02
  • @HostileFork The poster asks why there is no verb between reputation and shadow. But thanks fot the hint at my wrong use of "shortening". What non-native speaker can guess that shortening is a kitchen expression. So I have to use the technical term ellipsis.
    – rogermue
    Feb 24, 2016 at 6:11

Leaving out a word (ellipsis) is sometimes used to avoid repetition. When we have two sentences with the same pattern and the same verb we don't need to repeat the verb.

...reputation (is) it's shadow

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