Elliptical (incomplete) sentences
§ 5. A two-member sentence may be either completeorincomplete (elliptical). An elliptical sentence is a sentence in which one or more word-forms in the principal positions are omitted. Ellipsis here refers only to the structural elements of the sentence, not the informational ones. This means that those words can be omitted, because they have only grammatical, structural relevance, and do not carry any new relevant information.
In English elliptical sentences are only those having no word-forms in the subject and predicate positions, i. e., in the positions which constitute the structural core of the sentence.
There are several types of elliptical sentences.
1. Sentences without a word-form in the subject position.
Looks like rain.
Don’t know anything about it.
2. Sentences without word-forms in the subject position and part of the predicate position. In such cases the omitted part of the predicate may be either a) an auxiliary verb or b) a link verb.
a) Going home soon?
See what I mean?
Heard nothing about him lately.
b) Not bad.
Free this evening?
Nice of you to come.
3. Sentences without a word-form only in part of the predicate position, which may be an auxiliary or a link verb.
You seen them?
4. Sentences without word-forms both in the subject and the predicate position. Such ellipses occur in various responses.
What time does Dave come for lunch? - One o’clock.
What were you thinking about? - You.
What do you want of us? Miracles?
Where’re you going? - Home.
5. Sentences without a word-form in the predicate position. Such ellipses occur only in replies to questions.
Who lives there? - Jack.
What’s happened? - Nothing.
The Structural Types of Sentence
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COMMUNICATIVE TYPES OF SENTENCES
§ 6. The sentence is a minimal unit of communication. From the viewpoint of their role in the process of communication sentences are divided into four types, grammatically marked:declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamatory sentences. These types differ in the aim of communication and expressstatements, questions, commands andexclamations respectively.
| Dickens was born in 1812.
When shall I see you again?
Do you know Italian?
|| Come up and sit down.
What a quiet evening!
These types are usually applied to simple sentences. In a complex sentence the communicative type depends upon that of the main clause, as in:
I waited till the light turned to green. (statement)
Do you always wait till the light turns to green? (question)
Wait till the light turns to green. (command)
How thoughtless of you not to have waited till the light turned to green! (exclamation)
In a compound sentence, coordinate clauses may as well belong to different communicative types.
Look out, or you may meet with an accident. (command-statement)
I obeyed, for what else could I do? (statement-question)
§ 7. A declarative sentence contains a statement which gives the reader or the listener some information about various events, activities or attitudes, thoughts and feelings. Statements form the bulk of monological speech, and the greater part of conversation. A statement may bepositive (affirmative) ornegative, as in:
I have just come back from a business trip.
I haven’t seen my sister yet.
Grammatically, statements are characterized by the subject-predicate structure with the direct order of words. They are mostly two-member sentences, although they may be one-member sentences, as in:
Very early morning.
No curtain. No painting.
Statements usually have a falling tone; they are marked by a pause in speaking and by a full stop in writing.
In conversation, statements are often structurally incomplete, especially when they serve as a response to a question asking for some information, and the response conveys the most important idea.
Where are you going? - To the library.
Thanks to their structure and lexical content, declarative sentences are communicatively polyfunctional. Thus, besides their main function as information-carriers, statements may be used with the force of questions, commands and exclamations, as in:
I wonder why he is so late.
You mustn’t talk back to your parents.
§ 8. Interrogative sentences contain questions. Their communicative function consists in asking for information. They belong to the sphere of conversation and only occasionally occur in monological speech.
All varieties of questions may be structurally reduced to two main types, general questions (also called “yes-no” questions) andpronominal questions(otherwise called “special” or “wh” - questions). Both are graphically identified by a question mark. The two main types have a number of structural and communicative modifications.
§ 9. In general questions the speaker is interested to know whether some event or phenomenon asked about exists or does not exist; accordingly the answer may be positive or negative, thus containing or implying “yes” or “no”.
A general question opens with a verb operator, that is, an auxiliary, modal, or link verb followed by the subject. Such questions are characterized by the rising tone.
Does your sister go figure-skating?
Is that girl a friend of yours?
Can you speak French?
“Yes-no” questions may be incomplete and reduced to two words only: Can you? Does he?
A negative "yes-no" question usually adds some emotional colouring of surprise or disappointment.
Haven’t you posted the letter yet? (Why?)
General questions opening with will/would may be considered as commands and requests according to their communicative role (see § 17).
Owing to their occasional emotional colouring, “yes-no” questions may function as exclamations (see § 22).
§ 10.A tag question is a short “yes-no” question added to a statement. It consists only of an operator prompted by the predicate verb of the statement and a pronoun prompted by the subject. Generally the tag has a rising tone.
You know French, don’t you? - Yes, a bit.
George is a football fan, isn’t he? - He certainly is.
A tag question is added to a statement for confirmation and therefore is sometimes called aconfirmative question. It corresponds to such Russian tag questions as He так ли? Не правда ли? Ведь так? The speaker expects the listener to share his view of some situation rather than to give him some new information. The most usual patterns of sentences with tag questions are as follows.