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Way back in high school, I asked my English teacher a question while we were on the topic of sentence fragments.

If the words "I am." make a complete sentence, then would the contraction "I'm" be a full sentence too?

She was not able to answer me. Hopefully someone here can change that.

Note: Before someone marks this as duplicate to this: Is there some rule against ending a sentence with the contraction "it's"?

I want to say that this question asks if a contraction by itself can be a full sentence or not.

marked as duplicate by Hellion, Community Aug 4 '15 at 19:42

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • (The answers at my suggested duplicate, while talking specifically about "I have / I've", apply equally well to "I am / I'm".) – Hellion Aug 4 '15 at 18:46
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    No. 1) The rule offered at the question you link is still in effect: we only contract destressed verbs, so the utterance itself is "illegal". 2) In any case, "I am", although an acceptably "complete" utterance, is not (in the sort of discourses where the concept of sentence is used) a complete sentence but an elliptical one. – StoneyB Aug 4 '15 at 18:54
  • @StoneyB Except if you’re Descartes, of course. :-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 4 '15 at 20:23
  • @JanusBahsJacquet And even Descartes never said it in English - or even French. :) – StoneyB Aug 4 '15 at 20:55
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    @StoneyB That's what he thinks. – deadrat Aug 4 '15 at 21:51
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It would if it were ever a natural English sentence, but it isn't, it only exists as a contrived example.

Consider these three instances.

A: Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

B: I am.


A: I think. I am.


A: Who is going to Scarborough Fair?

B: I am.

In the first two it is clearly impossible to contract "I am" to "I'm" without losing the stress, which is essential to the meaning.

In the third case, the "I" can still be stressed - it would have been possible to respond.

B: I'm going.

However in this case, it is prohibited to remove "going" and keep "I'm" contracted because of the rule about clitics given in the accepted answer to the question about it's.

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