1

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

Is that proper grammar?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jan 21 '15 at 10:14

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • 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". – CowperKettle Jan 19 '15 at 20:20
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    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. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 19 '15 at 20:36
  • Oh. Not true sentences. After all. My professorship. There it goes. – CowperKettle Jan 19 '15 at 20:39
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    I think. I am. (Unfortunately, no cause/effect can be implied.) – Hot Licks Jan 19 '15 at 20:51
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    I don't know why this was migrated, as what constitutes a sentence is a debated issue among linguists. – user6951 Jan 21 '15 at 22:43
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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 Jan 19 '15 at 21:01
  • 'Tis. Absolutely. – user52889 Jan 19 '15 at 21:43
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    Calling them grammatical is a stretch. – eques Jan 21 '15 at 21:04
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    @eques - Calling them grammatical sentences may be a stretch. Call them grammatical constructs, though – I'd agree with that. – J.R. Jan 22 '15 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 Aug 13 '15 at 22:44
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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 Jan 21 '15 at 20:50
  • Then, a list of one item would have to be eligible: Q: What troubles you? A: Rising sea levels. – user6951 Jan 22 '15 at 13:26

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