World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0002603426
Reproduction Date:

Title: Pro-sentence  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Äuä, Yes and no, Parts of speech, Lexical categories, Flat adverb
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A pro-sentence is a function word or expression that substitutes for a whole sentence whose content is recoverable from the context. A pro-sentence is a kind of pro-form and is therefore anaphoric.

In English, yes, no, okay and amen are common pro-sentences. In response to the question "Does Mars have two moons?", the sentence "Yes" can be understood to abbreviate "Mars has two moons."

Pro-sentences are sometimes seen as grammatical interjections, since they are capable of very limited syntactical relations. But they can also be classified as a distinct part of speech, given that (other) interjections have meanings of their own and are often described as expressions of feelings or emotions.

Yes and no

In some languages, the equivalents to yes and no may substitute not only a whole sentence, but also a part of it, either the subject and the verb, or the verb and a complement, and can also constitute a subordinate clause.

The Portuguese word sim (yes) gives a good example:

Q: Ela está em casa? A: Acredito que sim. — Q: Is she at home? A: I believe that she is (literally, that yes).
Ela não saiu de casa, mas o John sim. — She didn't leave home, but John did (literally, John yes).

In some languages, such as English, yes rebuts a negative question, whereas no affirms it. However, in Japanese, the equivalents of no (iie, uun, (i)ya) rebut a negative question, whereas the equivalents of yes (hai, ee, un) affirm it.

Q: Wakarimasen deshita ka (Did you not understand?)
A: Hai, wakarimasen deshita (No, I didn't — Literally That's right, I didn't understand)

Some languages have a specific word that rebuts a negative question. German has "doch"; French has "si"; Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish have jo, Hungarian has "de". None have a clear English translation.

Q: Bist du nicht müde? (Aren't you tired?)
A: Doch. Ich gehe bald schlafen. (Yes. I'm about to go to sleep.)

In philosophy

The prosentential theory of truth developed by Dorothy Grover,[1] Nuel Belnap, and Joseph Camp, and defended more recently by Robert Brandom, holds that sentences like "p" is true and It is true that p should not be understood as ascribing properties to the sentence "p", but as a pro-sentence whose content is the same as that of "p." Brandom calls " . . .is true" a pro-sentence-forming operator.[2]


  1. ^ Grover, Belnap, Camp. "The Prosentential Theory of Truth", Philosophical Review 1970.
  2. ^ Brandom, Making it Explicit, 1994.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.