|1. All sentences must begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop.|
|2. All sentences must express a complete thought.|
|3. All sentences must contain a subject and a finite verb.|
Comfortably straightforward, aren't they? No? You're absolutely right!
The first rule is one of the first things most of us learn at primary school. It seems elementary: using a capital letter is simple, and we all know what a full stop is. But the rule is not much use on its own:
Write In Style.
Those start with capital letters, and I've [legitimately] placed a full stop after each one. They are not sentences, however; to establish why not, we need to consider rules 2 and 3.
I've often felt that rule 2 ought to be more helpful than it actually is. 'A complete thought' seems to be a clear and precise term: in this pair of examples it is obvious that the first is incomplete, making no sense whatsoever.
The man in a yellow.
The girl in rags.
But in what way is the second 'a complete thought'? It makes a certain amount of sense, yes, but only in terms of naming, of identification. Like 'Manchester United' and 'Write In Style', 'The girl in rags' prompts