I once had a discussion with some of my friends at school about something that is not really referred to by most grammar literature as it is about incomplete sentences/clauses. I'll give you some examples:

  • "Add WiFi-Network"
  • "Select language"

Those are options given in the settings menu of all of our phones. When analyzing the verb form nobody could not really identify what it is. One argued that it is an imperative (towards the phone) and therefore it is actually some kind of a complete sentence. Another believed in an infinitive. Another one argued that isolated infinitives always carry a "to" and therefore he opposed the idea of an infinitive in the examples given, although German, Spanish and French clearly use infinitives on these occasions. I believe that due to the need of short constructions the "to" is simply dropped but I cannot give them any proof.

Can somebody clarify the situation?

Thanks to all of you in advance.

  • I sort-of agree with you. "Press here to add a wifi network." So there is more than just the infinitive which is omitted, but it is an imperative too. – Weather Vane Jun 26 '19 at 18:14
  • It's missing a determiner/pronoun, I think: 'Add a WiFi network' 'Select your language'. There's some similar questions about newspaper headlines and signs - when typographical real estate is at a premium, nonessential words are dropped. – marcellothearcane Jun 26 '19 at 19:01
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    If it's an imperative, I would interpret it not as a command directed at the phone from the user, but as a command directed at the user from the software. ("You, user. Push here to select a language.") Of course, that's subjective. – Jason Bassford Jun 26 '19 at 19:39
  • @JasonBassford It can be interpreted as a description of a process. If you click the button, the process to add a network will start. But "select" is more clearly an imperative to the user. – Barmar Jun 26 '19 at 23:09
  • Compare to "Abandon ship" ell.stackexchange.com/questions/153477/… I like trend to drop article if it does not change meaning :) Really, you need to select A language or network out of many that will become THE selected language or network. – Rusty Core Jun 26 '19 at 23:42

These are not sentences but labels, like signs indicating, e.g., the purposes of rooms. They stand for imperative sentences (or instructions), such as, "Click here to add a network;" but are not sentences as such. They are linked conceptually and functionally to imperatives given to the device by software, but in themselves are directed to the user.

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  • This looks like subjective opinion, rather than an authoritative answer backed up by supporting evidence. You can edit your post to provide references and links. See also How to Answer. :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Jul 1 '19 at 6:28
  • Sorry I tried to help. Won't make that mistake again. – J. D. Crutchfield Jul 2 '19 at 13:35

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