Complete sentence or not?
September 5, 2014 2:44 PM   Subscribe

That is the truth of the matter. Is the above a complete sentence?
posted by harrietthespy to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yes.

That would be enough in itself, but there's also the "truth of the matter" which I believe, together with "is" is the predicate.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:49 PM on September 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Yes. It has a demonstrative pronoun (with an implied antecedent) acting as the subject, and also a verb.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:50 PM on September 5, 2014

Best answer: Yes. "That" is a pronoun; it stands for something that was said before. Presumably it stands for a whole sentence, like "today is Friday." In that case, your sentence would mean: "The fact that today is Friday is the truth of the matter." That's pretty verbose, so maybe it's not a very good sentence. And your lone sentence is a mystery to us, since we can't tell what was said before, so as to infuse your sentence with specific meaning. It's also unclear what "the matter" means. It implies that we understand what "matter" (as in, subject matter) is under discussion, and your one sentence doesn't include any such context. But all that just means it might be a low-information and/or poorly written sentence. That has to do with the quality of the sentence; it's still a grammatically complete sentence.

It's not "complete" in the sense of "conveying meaningful information to someone who reads only that sentence." But the phrase "complete sentence" is generally understood to mean, as I said, a "grammatically complete" sentence — one with a subject and verb and so on.
posted by John Cohen at 2:52 PM on September 5, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, folks!
posted by harrietthespy at 3:03 PM on September 5, 2014

A complete sentence is anything between two .s and, arguably, the ? stands in for a .

Also, it's not embedded in a larger phrase which does end in a .

So yes, I think that it is a sentence.
posted by tel3path at 3:45 PM on September 5, 2014

John Cohen has it right, and you may be interested in the linguistics concept of deixis, which is basically that some words (such as "that", but many others) only have meaning within context. The sentence you give above is grammatically complete but, lacking context, is not "meaning complete".
posted by Thing at 4:27 PM on September 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

that usually begins a clause. it is a clause not a sentence.
posted by Jewel98 at 8:16 PM on September 5, 2014

That is definitely a sentence, for the reasons mentioned above about subject and predicate. That's all a sentence needs. Even if it starts with "that."
posted by woodvine at 8:16 AM on September 6, 2014

« Older Victoria Daytrip   |   Yet another career advice question from a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.