1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

verbless sentence

By

verbless sentence
Definition:

A construction that lacks a verb but functions as a sentence.

A verbless sentence is a common type of minor sentence.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • No comment.


  • "Fascinating race, the Weeping Angels."
    (The Doctor in "Blink," Doctor Who, 2007)


  • "Waiter! raw beef-steak for the gentleman's eye--nothing like raw beefsteak for a bruise, sir; cold lamp-post very good, but lamp-post inconvenient."
    (Alfred Jingle in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, 1837)


  • "Smashed wheels of wagons and buggies, tangles of rusty barbed wire, the collapsed perambulator that the French wife of one of the town's doctors had once pushed proudly up the planked sidewalks and along the ditchbank paths. A welter of foul-smelling feathers and coyote-scattered carrion which was all that remained of somebody's dream of a chicken ranch."
    (Wallace Stegner, Wolf Willow, 1962)


  • "A white hat. A white embroidered parasol. Black shoes with buckles glistening like the dust in the blacksmith's shop. A silver mesh bag. A silver calling-card case on a little chain. Another bag of silver mesh, gathered to a tight, round neck of strips of silver that will open out, like the hatrack in the front hall. A silver-framed photograph, quickly turned over. Handkerchiefs with narrow black hems--'morning handkerchiefs.' In bright sunlight, over breakfast tables, they flutter."
    (Elizabeth Bishop, "In the Village." The New Yorker, Dec. 19, 1953)


  • "Paris with the snow falling. Paris with the big charcoal braziers outside the cafes, glowing red. At the cafe tables, men huddled, their coat collars turned up, while they finger glasses of grog Americain and the newsboys shout the evening papers."
    (Ernest Hemingway, The Toronto Star, 1923; By-Line: Ernest Hemingway, ed. by William White. Scribner's, 1967)


  • "It better as a verbless sentence seems to have won a place in correct, if informal, speech. 'I sure hope the market improves.' 'It better.' In fact, it had better might seem excessively formal in such an exchange."
    (E. D. Johnson, The Handbook of Good English. Simon & Schuster, 1991)


  • Fowler on the Verbless Sentence
    "A grammarian might say that a verbless sentence was a contradiction in terms; but, for the purpose of this article, the definition of a sentence is that which the OED calls 'in popular use often, such a portion of a composition or utterance as extends from one full stop to another.'

    "The verbless sentence is a device for enlivening the written word by approximating it to the spoken. There is nothing new about it. Tacitus, for one, was much given to it. What is new is its vogue with English journalists and other writers . . ..

    "Since the verbless sentence is freely employed by some good writers (as well as extravagantly by many less good ones) it must be classed as modern English usage. That grammarians might deny it the right to be called a sentence has nothing to do with its merits. It must be judged by its success in affecting the reader in the way the writer intended. Used sparingly and with discrimination, the device can no doubt be an effective medium of emphasis, intimacy, and rhetoric."
    (H.W. Fowler and Ernest Gowers, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 2nd ed. Oxford Univ. Press, 1965)
Also Known As: jinglese, broken sentence, minor sentence
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Taboo - Zimbabwean English
  6. verbless sentence - definition and examples of verbless sentences

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.