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If someone was to shout "You over there!" to get the attention of a friend, for instance, what would this statement be called?

Would it be a declarative because "You" is over there, but then is it an exclamative because you are exclaiming the statement to get the friend's attention... or is it something else entirely?

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  • It's not a statement. It's certainly not a sentence. It's a deictic phrasal vocative (using the Collins COBUILD AED). Apr 17, 2017 at 18:54
  • I'd call it a "hail".
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 18, 2017 at 11:48
  • It's not really an implicit sentence, even. It's an interjected noun phrase. In most uses that I can think of, the rest of the sentence follows: e.g. "You over there! State your business." is really one sentence where the noun phrase is the subject.
    – The Nate
    Apr 22, 2017 at 13:29

2 Answers 2

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'Hey!', for instance, is an interjection.

The whole construction here is an interjection used to get someone's attention. Depending on tone, it could be considered either informal or rude.

An interjection is

used especially to call attention or to express interrogation, surprise, or exultation.

See Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

You is a vocative, used to address the addressee. The pronoun you is a substitute for the name or the title of the person addressed, as in

Hey, Joanna!

or

Waiter!

Definition of vocative from Merriam Webster Dictionary: ...

2 [of a word or word group]: marking the one addressed (as mother in “mother, come here”) [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vocative]

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Certainly, there is no verb that shows tense in that "sentence", so it could not be considered to be such. It sounds like a command with an explicit subject.

I would say you may get different opinions regarding it being a "reduced sentence with a verb implied" or simply a "phrase containing a subject implying command".

These questions normally draw many different perspectives; however, this note from Longman English Grammar book acknowledges a sentence as:

When we speak, we often say things like All right! Good! Want any help? These are 'complete units of meaning', but they are not real sentences. A simple sentence is a complete unit of meaning which contains a subject and a verb, followed, if necessary, by other words which make up the meaning

So, there will probably be two different points of view, and I believe that your "sentence" may be seen as a "complete sentence with verbs cleaned up" - You go over there!

Longman English Book

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  • 'If someone was to shout "You over there!" to get the attention of a friend', not as a command ("You ... over there!") Apr 17, 2017 at 20:25
  • Sorry, I must have missed this part. Anyway, I can't think of it as not being a command; there is a subject and an exclamation (!)
    – Davyd
    Apr 17, 2017 at 20:28
  • 'Command' means 'give an authoritative or peremptory order.' (ODO). 'You ... over there!' (short for 'You ... get over there!') is a command, but 'You over there!' is a (shouted) identifying vocative, like 'You with the red hat on!' No command (though one might well follow). 'You over there! Well played, man!' shows that a command needn't be involved at all. Apr 17, 2017 at 20:37
  • @EdwinAshworth - Both ways could be interpreted.
    – Davyd
    Apr 18, 2017 at 0:49
  • No they couldn't; there needs to be a signalled separation shown in print in the case of a command (whether by the inclusion of a dash, an ellipsis, or by the use of two sentence-substitutes [You! Over there!] ). This corresponds to a pause in speech. Note that I'm not the only one to consider your answer (specifically, the second half) unhelpful. Apr 18, 2017 at 9:45

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