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More Nonverbal sentences

01 Sep 2001

jonvw asked “what exactly is a non-verbal sentence?… is there no verb at all? In which case, how can it be considered a sentence?”

Right, nonverbal sentences don’t have verbs. That is, the verb isn’t represented on the surface, known as a non-overt word. (You’d think they’d just call it covert, wouldn’t you? But an interesting sidenote: our term overt derives from French ouvert, meaning open. However, English got covert from covered – and the pronunciation of the words shifted together because of their semantic relationship.) So anyway, in the language I’m learning, Kaqchikel, if you use a certain type of pronoun, you can drop the copula. So something like “he teacher” = “he’s a teacher”, and “we four” = “we are four” = “there are four of us.” Of course, this happens in some varieties of American English, as well:

    He bad!
    That no way to talk!
    She going to the store.