Is the word plop in this example a sentence of its own?

Plop! The ripe, juicy fig fell smack into the umbrella.

  • 1
    No, it's not a sentence. It's an onomatopoeic word -- i.e, a word intended to sound like a particular thing, in this case (say) the sound made by an overripe fruit falling. Sentences have subjects and verbs. Plop is neither. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 2:15
  • 1
    @JohnLawler, I agree that "plop!" isn't a sentence, but I don't agree that sentences must have subjects and verbs (agreeing with rogermue below). Consider, "He says "Nonsense!", and I say so, too."
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 4:04
  • 2
    Tell us your definition of "sentence" and, well, you probably won't need to ask the question any more. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:18
  • While it's not a sentence itself, it's absolutely fine in your example. Having interjections (or single onomatopoeic words) can really make a story more inclusive and interesting.
    – Julia
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 7:26
  • It's a holophrasm en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holophrasis Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 11:43

2 Answers 2


There are one-word sentences that are not conform to the normal sentences with subject and predicate. One-word sentences as yes, no, please, now, never etc must be seen as a sentence type of its own. And I would see "Plop!" as a one-word sentence describing exactly the sound your ice cream ball makes when it falls to the ground.

I understand John Lawler's view and can accept it as well. I think the matter is a thing of personal preference. And the whole question is a bit academic. Comics use a lot of such sound describing words and we don't have any difficulty understanding them, ie we don't need a grammar explanation.

  • Cool with me if you want to use a wider set by a wider definition for sentence. But the set consists of disjoint subsets -- those that have a subject and verb and those that don't -- and it's the latter I'm interested in, but the OP might prefer the broader definition. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 15:14

"In grammatical use, though not in popular language, a ‘sentence’ may consist of a single word..." (from the OED, sentence, emphasis mine). In grammatical use, either the subject or the predicate may be omitted by ellipsis. Here, "plop" can be construed as a predicate consisting of an intransitive verb meaning 'fell with a sound like that of an object falling into water without splashing' (paraphrased from plop), with the subject (the fig) omitted.

In both grammatical use and popular language, calling "Plop!" an 'interjection' instead of a 'sentence' will work:

in·ter·jec·tion n.

  1. A sudden, short utterance; an ejaculation.

  2. Abbr. interj. or int.

a. The part of speech that usually expresses emotion and is capable of standing alone.

b. Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as Ugh! or Wow!

(From interjection. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved September 24 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/interjection. Emphasis mine.)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.