Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. Drowning cities. A disaster is coming our way!

Is that proper grammar?

  • Yes, these are legit sentences. I've forgotten the term used by grammarians to refer to them though. In Russian linguistics they call it "parcellation". Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 20:20
  • 2
    They're no longer considered unacceptable (when used judiciously) by the vast majority of anglophones, but they're not usually regarded as true sentences. Crots, sentence fragments, sentence substitutes. Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 20:36
  • Oh. Not true sentences. After all. My professorship. There it goes. Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 20:39
  • 3
    I think. I am. (Unfortunately, no cause/effect can be implied.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 20:51
  • 2
    I don't know why this was migrated, as what constitutes a sentence is a debated issue among linguists.
    – user6951
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 22:43

3 Answers 3


Yes, indeed. Sentence fragments. Verb implied. Punchy impact. Often overused. Still grammatical.

  • Does not need to imply verb or subject. For instance, "You stink" is a perfectly legitimate and complete sentence, with both verb and subject.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 21:01
  • 'Tis. Absolutely.
    – user52889
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 21:43
  • 1
    Calling them grammatical is a stretch.
    – eques
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 21:04
  • 2
    @eques - Calling them grammatical sentences may be a stretch. Call them grammatical constructs, though – I'd agree with that.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 8:44
  • Nope. Absolutely not. Just because some people have spoken English for their whole lives, doesn't mean they know the difference between grammatical and ungrammatical sentences.
    – Octopus
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 22:44

The first three statements are sentence fragments, not sentences. They are understandable, but are only "grammatically approved" as headlines, or as parts of a list.

Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. Drowning cities.

For example, the following sentence is grammatically correct. Unfortunately, it is not as "punchy" as the original example:

Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and drowning cities are signs of impending doom.

The fragments can also be converted into grammatically correct sentences:

Glaciers melt. Sea levels rise. Cities drown.

The last sentence is a grammatically complete sentence:

A disaster is coming our way!

  • Jerry Pournelle's Janissaries series is set on the fictional planet Tran. Tran has a 580-year cycle of mostly-cold weather, with a regularly scheduled bout of global warming, drowning cities, and alien intervention.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 20:50
  • Then, a list of one item would have to be eligible: Q: What troubles you? A: Rising sea levels.
    – user6951
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 13:26

If "sentence" means a chunk of writing that begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, then the answer is yes. What you've written is not "bad" or "wrong." It's something people do for rhetorical effect, such as to sound dramatic. In genres like creative writing, fiction, or just informal writing in general, you can do things like that.

If "sentence" means what sentence usually means, the answer is still "yes"--but the two-word things that you've written here are not sentences; they're noun phrases. For that reason, if this was in a paper that was being graded, the instructor MIGHT dislike them. If the instructor dislikes them, he/she will probably call them "fragments". Sentences usually have a subject (something doing the action or that the sentence is about) and a predicate (what the subject is doing or more information about the subject). Examples of two-word sentences that everyone would agree are "complete sentences" are "Dogs bark" (Subject Verb), "I slept" (Subject Verb), and "We left" (Subject Verb).

If "sentence" means "utterance" or "turn at speaking," the answer is also "yes". We can even have one-word utterances, like "Yes" or "Goodbye."

In other words, the sample of your writing that you've shared sounds perfectly fine, but not everyone would refer your two-word things as "sentences"---and SOME instructors might circle them with a red pen and call them "fragments".

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