So, I posted a picture in a group chat and one of the members of the chat questioned the placement of the question mark (attached for reference).

enter image description here

Where's your plane, peasants? (original)


Where's your plane? Peasants. (what he thinks it should be)

To my knowledge, the second would be grammatically incorrect purely for the fact that it contains a single word sentence, is this correct?

  • Are single-word sentences allowed? Absolutely! – Mick Dec 13 '16 at 7:22
  • But does a sentence not require a subject and a verb? (Off-topic, but that was one of my reasoning that the original question's question was valid and not the latter).. still, curious to hear, Mick, what would your preference of the two above be? – jenovachild Dec 13 '16 at 7:34
  • "Where are you, Peter?" vs "Where are you? Peter." – user140086 Dec 13 '16 at 7:38
  • I think that your friend's version is better, and I would put an exclamation mark after peasants to flag it as an insult. However, my English is fairly sloppy, and I would probably use the original form without thinking about it. – Mick Dec 13 '16 at 7:38
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    @Rathony that was what I said, too. "What did you have for dinner, kids?" vs "What did you have for dinner? Kids." -- He argued that in this case it's an insult, so it's different. – jenovachild Dec 13 '16 at 7:48

Both are grammatical, but they come across differently. I'll illustrate by setting the sentences if they came from the script for a (poorly written) play.


CARPENTER: Welcome to today's lessons on carpentry. Please bring your tools with you, and state your name and title as you enter.

ROBIN enters, carrying a bag of tools.

ROBIN: Robin of Loxley, bow-making, if you please.

APPRENTICE: This way, sir.

GEORGE and VAISEY enter, empty-handed.

GEORGE: We're just peasants, but we'd like to learn to make targets. Um, could we perchance borrow a plane?

APPRENTICE: Where's your plane, peasants?

GEORGE: We're sorry, sir, but we don't have any.

APPRENTICE: Very well, you may borrow this axe head and do what you can with it. Be sure to bring it back.

JOHN enters, also empty-handed.

JOHN: My name is John, and I'll be a prince one day. Show me to ...

APPRENTICE (under his breath): Not you again.

APPRENTICE (to JOHN): Where's your plane?

APPRENTICE (under his breath): Peasants.

JOHN: storms out

Curtains close.

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  • I guess the second version here could also be written as "Where's your plane? ...peasants." -- I know this is how he read it, as he included the ellipsis when explaining it to me, however, I do not believe it is the intended tone of the original sentence. I guess the answer here is that they're both grammatical as you say, however, it then relies on the intent of the original writer. If they wanted it to read with an 'under the breath' tone, it probably would have been written as such. shrugs ...I still hold that, it is what it is, and should not be changed :) – jenovachild Dec 14 '16 at 5:59
  • @jenovachild Revisiting the picture, I'd agree that the original version communicates what seems to be its intent. It's (possibly, a parody of) a haughty tone, where the word peasants is applied derisively to those who don't own planes. – Lawrence Dec 14 '16 at 11:28

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