What is a verbless sentence?

It is a general opinion that a sentence must contain at least an action word that shows what is done or performed. A verbless sentence, however, exists and defies this rule. A verbless sentence lacks a verb but functions as a sentence.

A verbless sentence is also referred to as a broken sentence, and in rhetoric, it is called scesis onomaton. It is a form of minor sentence because some units have been omitted.

Examples:

  1. To a brighter future (e.g. before clinking glasses of wine).
  2. Good job.
  3. Of course not.
  4. So far so good.
  5. Better safe than sorry.
  6. So far so good.
  7. No pain, no gain.

However, it is pertinent to know that a verbless sentence is usually preceded by a normal sentence or action, without which the former becomes meaningless. Even if there were no previous conversation, the verbless sentence is still meaningful in some situations. For example: when you do an excellent job for someone and they pat you on the back and say, ‘Good job.’

A verbless sentence should not be confused with interjection, a part of speech we throw into sentences but does not affect their grammatical construction. Interjections are emotional words or phrases and always end with an exclamation mark.

Examples:

  1. Oh!
  2. My goodness.
  3. Poor you!

Be that as it may, some grammarians have argued that a verbless sentence should be avoided by all means, though it has always been acceptable in English: some writers use it, others don’t.

However, verbless sentences should be used sparingly, with good taste and avoided in formal writing and school work.

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