Submitted by djjothic  •  October 2, 2005

Complete Sentence

In a compelte sentence, you need a Subject and a Predicate. But what about the sentences that are, “Okay.”, “Yes/No/Maybe”, “Hello.” etc. Are they considered a Complete Sentence or thought?

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They are not considered complete sentences. The shortest complete sentence in the English language is "I am".

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Nowadays the shortest is "U r". ;)

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I disagree. With mandates (commands), the subject (which is "you") is always implied and is never said. For example, Sit down., get up., eat., and walk. are all complete sentences. Going by this rule, the 2 shortest sentences in the English language are "Be." and "Go." The former doesn't really make much sense, so "Go." is accepted as the shortest sentence in English.

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With your reasoning, answering the question "Who won?" or "Who is the winner?" with "I." would imply "I did." or "I am." Therefore "I." is the shortest sentence.

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David, your comments make a lot of sense. However, I would add that "Do" would be just as short as "Go" and "Be."

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<i>With your reasoning, answering the question "Who won?" or "Who is the winner?" with "I." would imply "I did." or "I am." Therefore "I." is the shortest sentence.</i>

No, because "I" is simply a subject with no predicate. What David says is correct; in commands, there is an IMPLIED subject. If I told someone to run, I wouldn't necessarily say, "You run." I would just say, "Run," and the "you" (the subject) would be implicit. A subject can be implied in a command (mandate); a predicate cannot be implied.

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You may imply a subject like in the sentence "Go." If answering a question such as, "What are you doing?" the response, "Walking." has I am implicit in meaning.

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I found this.....

Contrary to what you may have found doing an Internet search, the shortest English language sentence is not “I am.” Follow along now—it does get technical.

“I am,” first of all, is not a sentence. An English sentence must have a subject / predicate relationship, and the key element in that relationship is the type of verb that creates the predicate. Verbs either show action or they do not. Verbs without action, such as “am,” when used as a predicate, must have something to complete the meaning—a complement. So you “am” “something.” “I am happy” is a sentence since “happy” is fulfilling the complement role. Therefore, “I am” is not a sentence.

The shortest English sentence is probably “Go.” “Go” is an action verb and can be used in imperative mood, which means that it can be used with good, old “You Understood.” So “Go” actually means “You go.” On the other hand, if that interpretation doesn’t strike your fancy, let’s say that understood meanings are disallowed, then “I go” is the shortest sentence. “Go” doesn’t require a complement since it is an action verb nor does it require a direct object. With a total of three letters—the same number as the illegal “I am” contender—“I go” should reign as the champion, unless someone out there knows of a single letter verb. (No fair pulling in Old English and foreign languages.)

---Submitted for Your Approval

---By Your Humble Servant

---Bob “I Can Parse” Harrison

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The Bob Harrison response forgets that "am" is in itself a verb - being is an action, so "I am", as in "I exist" is perfectly legitimate as a sentence.

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harsh-- you're wrong. "Am" does not show action. It must have a complement so harrison is right. if being is an action then let's see you do it.

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I think perhaps the problem here is that "sentence" is an artefact of written English. But spoken English does not consist of "sentences" - instead it consists of chunks of meaning, with restarts, backtracking, interruptions, fillers, and turn-taking. Have a look at transcripts of normal English conversation to see what I mean, for instance here:
http://www.lextutor.ca/concordancers/concord_e....

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No, X. Harsh is absolutely correct. Blacklace is absolutely wrong. Verbs can be action verbs or state-of-being verbs. There is no such rule that state-of-being verbs have to take an object.

Your confusion might be arising because some verbs are copula, which, rather than take objects, state equivalence, i.e., "A is B", means the same as "B is A", and neither A or B is the "object".

HOWEVER, most words have more than one meaning and many copula are copula for some meanings and not others. When it's copulative, the verb "to be" requires two nouns, but when it means "to exist", it is NOT copulative and requires only a subject. This is not because existing is an action verb. It is because existence is a state of being that is NOT a comparison between two things. "I am a golfer" is stating an equivalence between me and golfers. "I am", as in "I think, therefore I am" means mean "I exist". SAME WORD. DIFFERENT DEFINITION. NOT COPULATIVE. NOT TRANSITIVE. FULL SENTENCE. If "I exist" is a full sentence (which it is - I would never say, I exist happy, or I exist a golfer), then so is "I am"! Asserting one's own existence is a complete thought, valid grammatically and philosophically.

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ahmm... according to my teacher it was "I am". For me it is a sentence because it implies who you are. n_n

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I agree with MAU, It´s a sentence because it implies who you are.

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I agree with the people who say that "I am" is a sentence.

My English teacher says that the word "am" denotes state of being, which can be seen as a predicate.

So therefore, there is a subject in the sentence ("I") and a predicate, in the form of a state of being ("am").

However, I believe that the word "Go" is a complete sentence because it is a command. My English teacher (she's awesome, I always say "my English teacher said this" or "my English teacher said that") thinks that commands are very rude because they are impersonal, not addressing a subject, although a subject is implied.

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my gosh!!! me and my girlfriend make a debate within these sentences.............. i hate this!!!!!

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So, "hello/maybe/yes/no" ARE complete sentences. These words denote action (i.e. the predicate), and "you" is the implied subject. Right?

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general query?

Would I, totally and completely out of my depth here btw, be correct in thinking that there should be a distinction between written and spoken english?
For example, 'I am' could be written in a piece of literature without inverted commas as (for lack of better way of putting it) a stand-alone sentence.
On the other hand, 'Go', to the best of my limited knowledge, would only be written as a direction or an order orally given by a character in said literature. I can't envisage 'Go' on it's own without inverted commas in anything I've read.

Would 'Go' always be preceded by an exclamation mark? Does this make any difference?!

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conflustered: written and spoken language are fundamentally different. Spoken language is often full of disfluencies, restarts, "incomplete sentences", fillers, etc. Written language is usually heavily edited, and contains punctuation, which of course spoken language doesn't have.

But it's important to note that spoken language is primary. Written language is one kind of representation of spoken language. People without written language still have language.

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Er, thanks to all for presenting perfectly cogent arguments as to why "I am" is grammatically correct. However on the basis that "Go" is also correct, and applying some basic laws of mathematics, then "Go" (2 letters) is still the shortest sentence...

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To "conflustered": you said that you could only imagine the command, "go", being written as a quote when said by some character in literature, and, therefore, always needing quotes when written. Here is a simple and obvious scenario where "go" would be used without quotes. How about using "go" in written directions? Not quoting someone, but actual written directions that, at some point, simpy command the reader to "go"? OK, probably not common, perhaps even awkward, but certainly imaginable. Example:

"How to Steal 2nd Base"
Get ready to go from 1st base to 2nd base.
Wait until the pitcher's not looking.
Go.

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OK, here's an idea that I'm sure many will disagree with. I'm going to posit that any single letter can be a complete sentence. I'm suggesting that through verbification, with the proper context, any letter can be used as a verb, then stated as an imperative. At the risk of incurring the wrath of both prescriptivists and descriptivists alike, I am further suggesting that as long as the context makes the meaning clear, verbifying any noun is always grammatically correct, even if the verb form is not listed in any dictionary anywhere, even if that particular noun has never been verbified before in human history by anyone ever, even once. I'm putting it forth that the rules of English, no, of all language, allow this, and that verbification is simply a flexible communication tool that is allowed and that its free use is just a normal part of English.

Here's an example:

"Gee, you look tired."
"Yes, I was up all night grading papers. The pen was flying. I was A-ing and B-ing all over the place, occasionally, C, D, and F-ing."
"Really?"
"Yes. I did have one paper I wasn't sure of, though. Here, take a look. It's very good, but should I A or should I B?"
"Hmmm. Oh, this is really quite exceptional. You should A."
"A?"
"A."

A bit silly? Perhaps, but grammatical. Note, at the end, "A" does not refer to the grade itself. "A" is used as a verb meaning "to write an 'a' on a paper as part of the grading process."

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X, thank you very much. I will now live my life by the phrase "If being is an action, then lets see you do it."

I side with the "Go" lovers as well.

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Oh yeah, UncleGrandfather? If being is NOT an action let's see you NOT do it. OK??

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is the word "Please." a complete sentence?

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It's obvious that one can speak or write one word and two word sentences. It's all in the intent. When we really understand language, we understand the implied words that are omitted. For instance, to say "I have," implies that I possess something, anything or everything. Certain two word sentences seem to require a precursor sentence, i.e. in answering a question such as, "Who's singing next?" The answer "They are." is a complete sentence. It's all in the intent or the tone. There is an intent in a written sentence as well as a spoken sentence, and the intent is shown in the tone.

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"GO", is the shortest sentence because it already has a complete thought...

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"GO", is the shortest sentence because it already has a complete thought...it is totally a sentence.

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acctually the shortest word in the english language is "Go."

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Sorry, James, both "I" and "a" are words, shorter than "go". They're not full sentences, but they're definitely words!

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who really cares u english nerds

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geeks sir, geeks.

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Q: Are you going to the movies?
A: I am. (going to the movies is implied.)

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First of all "Go" is not a sentence because it is not a complete thought or idea. In order to use "Go" as a command it has to be supported by previous conversation so that the person being commanded will understand that they are the person being spoken to. Likewise the command needs to have a coinciding gesture such as a look or pointing a finger in order that the person being talked to knows that they are the one being commanded to do something. Another way to look at it is to put the word "Go" on a piece of paper. If you look at the word "Go" it does not tell who to go or where to go. Therefore it is the physical gesture you use along with the command "Go" that tells the person what to do not simply the command "Go" by itself. "I am" on the other hand does not need a physical gesture in order to be understood. Likewise you can transfer these words to paper and the statement is completely understood and consists of a subject and a verb. Debate closed.

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I full-heartedly concur with TheEnglishScholar.
"Go." by itself simply has no meaning, and it's subject isn't implied UNLESS previously stated and/or with the pointing of phalanges or other appendages. =P

Go where? Go when? How?

Too many discontinuities to hold itself together, if you ask me. But eh.
Peace out.

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Oh, and I apologize for the numerous sentence fragments in my previous post.
=S

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TheEnglishScholar, Indelicato, I must say, I really can't follow your logic. First, imperatives are definitely sentences (there are four types of sentences, declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory). Imperative sentences, by their very definition, do not have explicitly stated subjects. There's nothing about "go" that requires an object. It can simply mean "to leave". So "go" is clearly a self-contained and complete imperative sentence which most definitely conveys a complete thought or idea. What I really don't understand is why you would think it is at all relevant whether it specifies who goes or where they go or why gesturing or pointing has anything at all to do with it. Nearly every sentence in existence relies on other information or a context. That doesn't make the sentence any less of a sentence. Are you going to tell me that "I ate the whole thing." isn't a sentence because I didn't specify what thing I ate? Ridiculous! If your reasoning were correct, then any sentence that used a pronoun wouldn't be a sentence because you'd need another sentence to figure out who "he" or "she" might be. If I say "Get out of here. Go.", Those are two full sentences. If I want someone out of my presence, then if I just say "go", then "go" means "go". It doesn't matter who, where, when, or how. If I point to the door, or just give them a dirty look, or ignore them completely with my back to them, "go" still means "go" and is still a sentence.

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"Go!" is most certainly a complete sentence. In imperative sentences, the subject "you" is always implied.

Also, subjects do not require a predicate, they (usually) require verbs! A predicate is a word that is pointed to by an intransitive verb. Take for example,"I am a writer." Writer is the predicate, as opposed to, "I killed a writer." There, writer is the object because here the verb is transitive.

But getting back to the OP's point, single words that answer questions, such as, "Yes," "No," and "Maybe," are called pro-sentences. Think of them as pronouns, but for sentences.

In formal writing, pro-sentences are completely acceptable and it's merely a question of semantics whether you consider them full sentences.

While it is completely acceptable to capitalize the first letter of a pro-sentence and end it with a period, on the other hand, a pro-sentence is not considered formal without a traditional complete sentence preceding it.

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Personally, I have to agree with the logic of porsche. Language needs context regardless of what is being said. Ask any politician or public speaker what is thought of their full sentences being taken out of context. The sentence ends up implying something completely different. Thus, for a sentence to be complete, context should not be necessary. That being said, I agree with the theoretical idea porsche described before, "A." in the referred instance of porches' previous post is a complete sentence.

However, the least amount of assumptions left to the the reader/listener is better for the writer/speaker to be understood.

OK. Your turn. Go. Oh? You wonder who? You go. Oh. I see. You are wondering what. You write a response. That's what. Go.

ps: If "I am." is a sentence, then would "I'm." be a sentence?

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I think there is four complete sentences in english instead of two:these are-GO,BE,UP and NO

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hmmm... Why "up" and not "down?" Why "no" and not "yes?"

Love the discussion for far. (the "I" is implied :)). I agree wholeheartedly with porsche and all of her comments. Nice work!

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The shortest sentence is.... sound.._ trumpets = I'm

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Daywise or Day wise which word is correct

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is How could it though? a complete sentence

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Why are we arguing over the shorest sentences. The shortest sentences is the one where we say nothing at all. Therefore, don't arguing because most of you are arguing in long sentences anyway. So, the obvious answer is nothing. The shortest sentences is when we don't talk at all. ;p

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Ah, the ole' "empty set is a subset of every set" routine. Very clever, Mastermind. I like it.

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Is it as difficult to look past the inane posts for others as well? Or is it just me? ;)
"I'm" cannot be a complete sentence, because in the case of the contraction, the 'am' used in 'I'm' is an auxiliary verb, requiring another part; it is not the state-of-being meaning of the word.

Porsche, I congratulate and admire pretty much everything you've said here :)

For me, it's far less important to discover the 'shortest sentence in the English language' (especially since English itself is not only a confusing hodge-podge of adopting everyone else's language but also inherently adaptive to whatever one needs it to be) than it is to figure out what the underlying rules are and better understand how to use them.

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i am doing a project on fragments do u guys have any suggestions?

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we r doing a worksheet and a word scramble, but do you guys have any other ideas?

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you guys make my brain happy.
sorry, Mastermind, the shortest sentence cannot be nothing at all. Saying nothing isn't a sentence, because you didn't say anything. Could I say the smallest house in the world is a bare patch of land? Could I gesture to an empty table and say, behold, the smallest violin in the world? Therefore, no sentence at all is not the shortest sentence. Sorry. Seems to me that 'Go.' wins the prize so far.

I just realized - I'm talking about nothing! ;)

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But what I'm really wondering is if it is possible to have a complete sentence without a verb.

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Yes. No. Maybe?

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what about "I exist."

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Ok this is my version the shortest sentence is nothing like when your getting interupted kinda like this situation.
Principal: Ok this is the last straw your getting expelled.
Kid: WHAT why?
Principal:... aka interrupted.
Kid: I didnt do anythaing!!!
And yes basically it is possible to have a complete sentence without a verb kind of like this sentence.
Yahoo!!!
Yep thats a complete sentence.

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Hi!
Run!
Duck!
Go!
these are what I think

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I hate you
Would that be considered a sentence or a statement

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if in sentence hasn`t subject or oredicated it is fragment.excample: yes. no. go.

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"if in sentence hasn`t subject or oredicated it is fragment.excample: yes. no. go."

Wrong.

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hmmmm in my opinion it is ""i am " the shortest sentence...

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I Am, is God's name. Interesting.

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Kindly Translate them correctly please..
EXPRESIONS COMMONLY MISTRANSLATED
1. I’m going down..
2. I’ll be the one to do it..
3. Where are you studying?
4. I’ll ask her an apology.
5. Anybody who’s sitted here?
6. The next number of the program will be a song
7. We will make an ocular inspection.
8. Please pass by for a few minutes.
9. They usually stand by here.
10. I just commuted.

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"hey so i went to-." see what i did there i i mplied that there was more to the sentence, which means that its no longer a fragment right? if we can't start implying that there are words in or sentences to make full ones we would nevr get any information across. those "implied" nouns aren't full sentence, there is no. "commands" or greetings rule.

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hi, can you help me to make story/ article with 20 an idiom please...

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LOL, Porsche,
"F-ing" is an abbreviation of a dirty American expletive.
Do people on the other sides of the oceans use it, too?
I have little doubt that it is used by certain Canadians because what is here usually goes there, and vice-versa. (Except when it is in French.)
LOL, D.A.W.

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This one is probably one word too long, but at dinnertime, my favorite word is "eat!".

Also, the sentence "I am." is found in the Book of Exodus of the KIng James Bible.
Do you recall this?
D.A.W.

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LOL, Porsche, this one of yours has a pleasant connotation:
"I took a moment to do some F-ing in the middle of the night."

Oh, well, crude American expletives for you....
D.A.W.

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To some of you above: Verbs either express actions or states of existence.

Here are some short once that I can think of that express states of existence:
"I am", "I care", "I have" ("I possess"). "I hunger", "I hurt" ("I an in pain"), "I like", "I love", "I lie", "I rest" (describing my horizontal position), "I stand" (describing my vertical position"), "I thirst", "I tire", ("I am in fatigue") , "I understand".

Something that you have to be careful to do is to examine the less-common uses of a lot of English verbs. In English, we use the progressive mood and the emphatic mood of verbs so much that it is each to forget about their ordinary indicative mood -- one that isn't used so much for many of our verbs.
D.A.W.

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This discussion is informative and interesting, but wasn't the original question about "okay, Hello, Yes/Maybe"? As in, do these represent whole sentences and not a thought? I don't really get how this topic turned into a competition to find the shortest sentence in the world.
Whoever said the shortest was nothing is wrong, because mathematically the smallest number from 1-100 isn't zero. It's 1. You can't assume that the absence of something is less than that given item's worth. This is actually different in situations where zero or less is considered a part of the whole series. For example, I have 0 dollars. I have less money than someone who has $400. You see? It all depends.
As for this topic, I'm still confused about whether "Hello" is a thought or sentence. Can we focus more on this?

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@D.A.W - I think you need to sort your moods from your tenses or aspects. There ain't no such thing as the progressive mood - there is a progressive (or continuous) aspect, and there are progressive (or continuous) tenses - He is leaving, she was leaving, they will be leaving. And I have no idea what you mean by emphatic mood. There are three moods in English - Indicative, Subjunctive and Imperative. And far from being 'not used so much for many of our verbs', Indicative mood is what we use for most verbs nearly all the time. What verbs are you talking about?

And since the F-word is famously of Anglo-Saxon origin, I can't imagine how you think it is a peculiarly American word - the French, after all, call the British 'Les f***offs'. And while we're at it, the C-word isn't American either. In terms of Anglo-Saxon expletives, we all share a common heritage.

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1. i'm a student. I'm not a teacher .
2. I'm 31 I'm not 31
3. My class mate is matthew. H'es 35
4.my parents are Emanuele and leemo they're at work
B answer the questions about where john's meetings are each day by circling yes or no
1. is john in anaheim on the sixteenth yes
2. is john in san clemente and anahei on thursday no
3. where is john on monday in los angeles yes
4. Is john in long Beach on tuesday no
5.Is john in santa ana on Wednesday no
6. were else is john on Tuesday, Anaheim

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Hello, i am learning English and i wonder if there is a verb in the sentence below. I don't think there is one and if not, can it still be considered as a sentence? thank you :)

In Israel, the years after the Oslo Accords delivered on their promise of trading conflit for prosperity in dramatic fashion.

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theshockdoctrin,

The verb is "delivered" but the subject is unclear. I would rephrase it as so:

"In the years following the Oslo Accords, they (who exactly?) delivered on their promise of trading conflict for prosperity in a dramatic fashion."

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I'm just thinking, what about the sentence "I do."????

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@theshockdoctrin and Jasper - Yes, the subject is unclear at first, and the sentence needs to be read a few times to get the meaning, but I think 'they' are meant to be 'the years after the Oslo Accords' or perhaps the Oslo Accords themselves; it depends if you think a time period can 'deliver' anything. My version might be:

"In Israel, in the years following the Oslo Accords, the agreements delivered on their promise of trading conflict for prosperity in a dramatic fashion."

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Actually, in the original sentence, clearly "the years", as the subject of the sentence, are doing the delivering; however, "their" in "their promise" refers to the Oslo Accords. This is more a matter of semantics than grammar. The passing years don't promise anything. The promise occurred when the accords were written. It is the fulfillment of the promise (the delivery) that takes place during the passing years.

Also, while the original sentence might seem a little awkward or confusing, it's not really ungrammatical, nonsensical (or even ambiguous). Years can deliver in the same sense that, say, "The years have treated you well, my friend."

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Mariah - whilst "I am" may be the shortest sentence, "I do" is probably the longest.

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A year later, looking at it again, I would have to agree with porsche as to what 'their' refers to - i.e. The Oslo Accords. However, I prefer to deal with complete subjects which make sense, so I'll stick with ''the years following the Oslo Accords' rather than simply 'years' as the subject.

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Let me add mine.
Before we say 'GO' or any other word, phrase, whatever is the shortest sentence, we have to define fully what sentence is.
My own definition of a sentence:
"GIVING A COMPLETE THOUGHT A SENTENCE IS A FULLY OR PARTIALLY EXPRESSED GROUP OF WORDS".
By using this definition, we can divide sentence into a fully expressed(all its words are explicit) and a partially expressed(some of its words are ommitted. They are either implied or undertood).
For example: 'John is happy' is a fully expressed sentence.
'Go' is a partially expressed sentence. The ommitted word implied is 'You'.
'In the room' an answer to 'Where is John?' is also a partially expressed sentence.
The words ommitted are understood.
Where is John? (He is) in the room.
The word 'yes', 'no' or 'ok' can be a sentence if the words ommited are understood.
We could say: "to determine whether a word is a sentence or not, depends on the context in which it is contained".

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