© 2017 Steve Campsall

the 'minor' sentence

'What's the cat doing?'
'Sitting on the mat.'

A sentence is called minor not because its length but because it is grammatically incomplete. In the above dialogue, 'Sitting on the mat.' is a minor sentence.

Minor sentences break the grammatical rules of sentence formation but they are a commonplace in speech (especially as interjections, e.g. 'Never in a million years!' ). They are also used in written dialogue and poetry when the writer wishes to create a conversational tone. AN example is in the following extract from the poem, 'Valentine', by Carol Ann Duffy:

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

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