What is a Minor Sentence? Definition, Types and Examples

What is a Minor Sentence? Definition, Types and Examples

Welcome here! There are different kinds of sentences in English. Minor sentence is one of them. What is a Minor Sentence? Definition, Types and Examples is a post that focuses on the unique type of sentence. Minor sentences do not belong to either structural or functional classification of sentences but they can have expressions in either forms.

What is a Minor Sentence? Definition, Types and Examples

Let us see what a minor sentence is and its different types and examples but we will begin with the definition of a minor sentence.

What is a Minor Sentence? A Definition

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines minor sentence as “a word, phrase, or clause functioning as a sentence and having in speech an intonation characteristic of a sentence but lacking the grammatical completeness and independence of a full sentence (as Yes, indeed)”. We can understand a minor sentence as one that expresses a complete unit of meaning though it does not necessarily contain a verb in it. Generally, a minor sentence omits one of the structural elements like the subject, predicator, or complement.

Some simple sentence are not usually represented fully in some contexts. In such contexts, the simple sentence may be represented by any of the elements or a combination of the elements in the subject, predicator, complement and adjunct (SPCA) framework. The process of ellipsis or deletion has been used. A minor sentence is similar in nature to a verbless sentence. Let us see what a verbless sentence is…

Verbless Sentence

This is a unit of grammar that is independent; that is, it is not part of some other grammatical units, and yet does not contain any verb. Although a verb is essential to a sentence, a verbless sentence is very common in spoken language and are far from rare in written texts. Examples are:

  • Happy birthday!
  • Good God!
  • How cool!
  • No problem.
  • A thousand Naira please.
  • Down!
  • More coffee?
  • Yes Lord!

Types of Minor Sentences

Broadly speaking, we can divide minor sentence into two types. They include the following:

Productive Minor Simple Sentence

The realisation of this type is limitless since we can still model or produce new ones after them where necessary. We commonly use this type in newspaper headlines, greetings, adverts, conversations, commentaries, etc. Let us see few examples:

Newspaper Headlines

  • EU’s Brexit stance about to splinter?
  • Super Eagles in 2-0 victory!
  • Trump off to London.
  • Arsenal in, Chelsea out!
  • No plans to sack workers.


  • Milo: Food drink of future champions!
  • Coca-Cola: Enjoy!
  • Union Bank: Big, Strong, Reliable
  • FCMB: My bank and I
  • MTN: Everywhere you go
  • The Punch: The most widely read newspaper
  • Daily Sun: Voice of the Nation
  • Stanbic IBTC Bank: Moving forward
  • Sterling Bank: The One-customer bank
  • Skye Bank: Expanding your world
  • Fayrouz: Refreshingly different
  • Ovaltine: Rich in happiness
  • Malta Guinness: Top-of-the-world smiles
  • Top Tea: Bags of Flavour
  • Veleta Wine: Sheer Delight
  • Biggs: What a delicious experience!
  • Michelin: A Better way forward
  • Binatone: The smart choice

Responses to Conversations and Questions

  • Who owns this book? John
  • Where are you going? Home
  • When are you coming back? Soon
  • Where are you travelling to? Lagos.
  • Bring something for me. Alright
  • How are you? Fine
  • What would you eat? Vegetable Salad
  • Where is the meeting holding? Conference room
  • Do you think we should go now? Not really
  • When do we meet again? Tomorrow

Most responses to questions are minor sentences.


  • A square pass to Ronaldo…
  • Dribbles two in a row…
  • A good pass there…
  • A volley shot!
  • Into the net!
  • A nice tackle…
  • Embarrassing own goal…
  • Red card there…

Titles (Texts, Titles)

  • The Chief-of-Army Staff
  • Bad road network in Nigeria
  • The Faith of the Son
  • Introduction to ICT
  • The English Tense System
  • The President and Commander of the Armed Forces
  • UN Secretary-General
  • The richest man in Africa
  • Introduction to Physics
  • The Daily Sun
  • The Punch Newspapers
  • Poor Electricity Supply

Non-Productive Minor Sentences

Non-productive minor sentences are those with fixed forms as we cannot model new ones after them. We can find examples in the following:


  • How are you? Fine!
  • Hello!
  • Thank you!
  • Long time!
  • Congratulations!
  • Happy New Year!
  • Good morning.
  • Merry Christmas!
  • Morning!
  • Good day!


These subdivides into two:

 Primary interjections

Primary interjections only have one lexical element. Examples include:

Hurray! Wow! Ah! Oh! Etc.

Secondary interjections

Secondary interjections have more than one lexical element: See the following examples:

Bless you! Thank God! Thank goodness! Good heavens! Oh dear! Oh my! Nice one! Good one! Nice shot! Good grief! Oh my God! Oh well! Good luck! Etc.

Aphoristic Minor Sentences

These are usually traditional expressions which we cannot add to. Often, they formed a closed class.  They include idioms, proverbs (See Collections of Famous English Proverbs), set expressions from foreign expressions and clichés (See What is a Cliché). Examples include:

  • Easier said than done
  • The earlier the better
  • More haste, less speed
  • Midas touch
  • Slow and steady
  • Across the board
  • At this juncture
  • Bag and baggage
  • Bone of contention
  • Day in, day out
  • Fair and square
  • First and foremost
  • Bon voyage
  • Bon appetit
  • Au revoir
  • Ab initio
  • Bon mot
  • Early to bed and early to rise
  • An ace up the sleeve
  • A bull in a china shop
  • A sight for sore eyes
  • A sixty-four thousand dollar question
  • The more the merrier

Non-Simple Minor Sentence

I did mention in the introductory lines of this post that minor sentences do not belong to either structural or functional classification of sentences strictly, but they can have expressions in either forms. In other words, a minor sentence can be a compound sentence, an imperative, a compound-complex minor sentence, etc. Let us see some of these manifestations of the minor sentence…

Compound Minor Sentence

  • Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
  • Watch and pray.
  • Nice but strict.
  • Cool but expensive
  • See and buy.

Complex Minor Sentence

  • Good, though tough.
  • Leave if convenient.
  • Fine, despite the cold.
  • Nowhere except here.
  • If so, run.

Compound-complex Minor Sentence

  • Although a slim chance, try and be focused.
  • Though prospective, go but be careful.
  • Despite fund paucity, come and get some.

Multiple Minor Sentence

  • If available, obtain, fill and submit the form.
  • When home, wash, cut and boil the yam.
  • Before then, read, study but sleep well.


This post examines one of the sentence types in English which we use in our everyday conversation and business. A good understanding of minor sentences is important to enable us use them appropriately. Kindly see other related posts around the English sentence. These include Patterns of English Sentence, Types of Sentence According to Structure, The Simple Sentence, Syntactic Elements of the Sentence and Types of Sentence According to Function. Please share these posts for wider readership and circulation. Use our share to Social Media buttons below. Your comments and questions are highly welcome. See you around!


  1. Hi
    i want to ask if you don’t mind to help me. in fact i have a search on moodless clauses and this artical helpful one but without refrences . Please can you list your sources .

      1. Hi
        Please if you have books related with moodless list them . i required any source or any artical because i need to diffrentiate between moodless and minor clause. I know that moodless is one type of mionr clause .

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