I wrote the following sentence in a post

"art form" is the most common phrase.

In fact, I constructed it as the following version first and then changed it as the one above.

"art form" is the most common.

The abandoned version doesn't have the noun "phrase" at the end of it.

A native speaker told me that it was incomplete but she didn't explain why is that.

I seems that the pattern noun + be + adj is incomplete, which might not be true in general.

Is it because the sentence uses the superlative form?


It depends on context.

The direct object may be understood, e.g.

Question: "What phrase is the most common in the corpus?"

Answer: "art form" is the most common.

That is common colloquialusage. The 'A' of the first word probably should be capitalized, but one could argue "e e cummings is a poet" is correct to maintain the case as given.

Without the question, though, I would not consider it a complete thought nor sentence. The sentence, "Art form" is the most common phrase, is valid. To improve it, if it stands alone, then you might state where that phrase is found so often.

  • Thanks for your excellent example. How about my first quotation, "art form" is the most common phrase? Could it be considered complete on its own? – RobertH Jun 23 '20 at 4:20
  • Yes, and I'll amend the answer. – DrMoishe Pippik Jun 23 '20 at 4:23
  • Thank you. Does this version, 'Ngram Viewer shows "art form" is the most common phrase', answer the question where that phrase is found so often? – RobertH Jun 24 '20 at 4:12
  • Yes, it could be a correct answer. – DrMoishe Pippik Jun 24 '20 at 16:46

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