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Voting to close on the grounds this is not a constructive question. A sentence could be, for example, an answer to someone asking "What's the first [or n'th] letter of the alphabet?" –  FumbleFingers Jul 17 '11 at 13:32

16 Answers 16

up vote 37 down vote accepted


The understood subject is "You". "[You] go" makes sense to me.

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"Go" (imperative) is in fact the more common form than "You go", so it makes even more sense than "You go". –  ShreevatsaR Aug 7 '10 at 16:55
@ShreevatsaR: "You" is the understood subject of imperatives. –  moioci Aug 9 '10 at 14:48
@moioci: Yes, I know. I was just pointing out that in actual usage, it's more usual to actually drop the subject "You", and more common forms are more likely to be understood. –  ShreevatsaR Aug 9 '10 at 20:23

One could argue that in certain contexts, the single letter "I" is a sentence (depending on your definition of a sentence):

"Who is it?"


This (one letter) is the shortest possible, unless you count the "empty utterance". ;-)

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Shouldn't it be "Me."? Short for "It is me." –  Picturepocket Sep 14 '10 at 18:04
You could also say "I" if someone asks, "what is the ninth letter of the alphabet?" –  Kosmonaut Sep 14 '10 at 19:20
@Picturepocket: No, because it's actually short for "It is I." A predicate nominative is grammatically supposed to be the subjective form of the pronoun (e.g. "I", "he") as opposed to the objective form ("me", "him"), despite the fact that casual English often uses the latter. –  Maulrus Sep 14 '10 at 19:45
Also a shorter form of "I am", where "am" is understood in response to a question. –  tsilb Aug 9 '11 at 16:35
@Picturepocket, one way to check is determine which is correct in a group, and vice versa. So "It is Joe and I" is the correct form, therefore "It is I" is correct. No, as correct as it sounds, you don't say "It is Joe and me". –  Arlen Beiler Aug 9 '12 at 23:22


The verb "to be" in the imperative mood. Though it's the same number of letters as "Go!", I'd say it wins as it comes first alphabetically. ;)

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Plus it evokes somewhat philosophical associations. ;-) –  ShreevatsaR Aug 7 '10 at 18:19
I'm feeling existentially angsty. –  Charlie Aug 7 '10 at 18:26
How do you disobey this one? –  TimLymington Jun 18 '11 at 20:55

"No!" works perfectly, in my opinion.

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It is a response to another sentence. –  Arlen Beiler Aug 20 '10 at 18:50
Not necessarily. What if you see a toddler running towards an open fire (or something really dangerous at any rate)? –  kitukwfyer Aug 20 '10 at 19:09
It depends on what one considers a complete sentence. –  Kosmonaut Sep 14 '10 at 19:30
Just because it expresses a complete thought doesn't necessarily make it a sentence. –  eds Sep 14 '10 at 19:31

It is said both the longest and the shortest sentence comes from the wedding ceremony:

I do.

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+1 for the "sentence" pun –  Alexander Kosubek Sep 13 '12 at 7:06


That is the shortest, in number of words, complete English sentence that directly answers your question.

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How utterly profound! –  Arlen Beiler Aug 9 '12 at 23:18

The shortest sentence in the entire English Language, is the reply:


It is a reply to the question: "Who is it?" Reply: "I."

That's shorter than "Go!"

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I would vote for "I am."

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This was actually my first thought, but then I kept thinking. I still like it, though. :) –  kitukwfyer Aug 7 '10 at 23:37

I don't know if it even qualifies in this context, but according to the story, an author (variously Oscar Wilde or Victor Hugo), wondering how his new book was selling, sent a single-character telegram to his publisher:


The reply was


that is, well.

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Very famous story, about Oscar Wilde. –  The Raven Jul 17 '11 at 13:59
@TheRaven: It's apocryphal. You here it just as often about Victor Hugo, and there's equal evidence to support either version -- none at all. –  David Schwartz Jun 9 '12 at 9:39
I've heard it about Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother, season 4 epsiode 1) –  Luke Mar 19 '13 at 5:15

It obviously can't be less than three letters (**.) and still be a complete thought.

  • Go.
  • Hi!
  • Ho! (same as "Hi")

This doesn't include responses since they require other sentences.

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And if we are talking about the shortest spoken complete sentence, then something like Cut. could be the shortest, because [kʊt] just has a single lax vowel and two stops, while "go" [goʊ], "hi" [haɪ], and "ho" [hoʊ] are all diphthongs, which makes them take a fraction of a second longer to say :) –  Kosmonaut Sep 14 '10 at 19:29
A period is not a letter, it is a punctuation mark. –  Oldcat Mar 1 '14 at 1:33


As a variant of the exclamation "Oh!", an interjection of fear, surprise, admiration, etc.

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Even better than that, contemplate (the pithy, wholly implied) section 7.1 of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (as translated from the original German):

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Q: Which is the fifth letter of the alphabet? A: E.

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Since you already have many sweet, and short, answers I can only speculate on your intentions and provide, possibly, interesting link to one word sentences.

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"I sentence you to time already served. You are free to go."

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Used to represent a sound made in speech, especially one used to express enquiry, surprise, or to elicit agreement


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protected by RegDwigнt May 19 '11 at 8:23

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