Is it a sentence?

Random Words Make A Sentence
Image by Steve Snodgrass (CC BY 2.0)

In order to do well on the OSSLT, you’re instructed to use “conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) in a manner that does not distract from clear communication” and to “use full and correctly written sentences.” (Getting Ready Guide www.eqao.com)


But you probably don’t get much practice with this kind of writing. For most people, daily writing happens electronically, either through email, texting or social media. And these ways of communicating seldom observe the usual conventions, or rules of writing.

What is a sentence, anyway?

A sentence …
·        begins with a capital letter and ends with a period.
·        has a subject (who or what) and a verb (doing or being).

Now consider the kind of writing you might find in an email:

“You joking? Only if he shows up on time. Whatever.”

There’s not a single complete sentence in this example. There are capital letters and periods in the right places, but these are sentence fragments. They’re either missing the “who” or “what” or they are missing the verb.

Read the following text message:

“Ur jkg. Ill b thr at 3.”

This message uses complete sentences, but not correct spelling conventions.

For the kind of writing you need to use for the OSSLT, look in more traditional places such as textbooks, magazines and newspapers. 

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