What is "No parking" short for?


I am studying in the imperative sentence and I wonder what "No parking" is short for.I also want to get more comprehensive material of the imperative sentence.


Posted 2013-11-29T10:10:11.660

Reputation: 4 786



It's not short for anything. It's a direct instruction.

When forming a basic imperative, instructing someone to do an action, we just use the verb form directly, possibly with an exclamation mark:



Come back!

This is the case whether we are instructing someone specific or people in general to perform the action.

But when we construct a sentence instructing someone to not do an action, there are two forms. The first form is a basic negated imperative - used when we are telling someone that the action must either not happen, or must stop happening. For this we use the simple negation of the imperative by adding don't (or equivalent) to the front of the sentence:

Don't run!

Don't stop!

Don't come back!

The second form is when we are telling someone that the action is forbidden. In this case we add the determiner no and change the verb into gerund form, and this is the form generally found in slogans and signage:

No running!

No stopping!

No coming back!

Indeed, if you look up the dictionary definition of no, you'll find this listed as one of the many specific uses of the word:

No - determiner

used in notices or slogans forbidding or rejecting something specified.

So as you can see, "no parking" is not, in fact, short for anything. It's a direct instruction, telling people in general that parking is forbidden in the vicinity of the sign.


Posted 2013-11-29T10:10:11.660

Reputation: 11 728

I want to add allowed to the end of those last ones; No running allowed. It seems to me that the allowed is implied (or rather, is allowed is implied). In practice that might not be where the phrase came from, but I definitely add that on in my head. I get Run and Don't run as imperatives, but No running seems incomplete to me. (It definitely can be and is used, but the is allowed is always implied in my mind. I have no idea if I'm making any sense at this point!) – WendiKidd – 2013-12-01T03:13:41.057


Imperative is a syntactic category, including statements like "Don't park here."

Although "no parking" has the same force that an imperative does, grammatically speaking it isn't one. It's a noun phrase:

no determiner parking gerund

The force of a statement in English isn't always determined by its grammatical form. A classic example from speech act theory is "Do you have any salt?" Literally, this is a question about the possession of salt, and it can be answered with "yes" or "no". But in the right context, this will be interpreted instead as a request: "Please give me some salt."

Speech act theory describes utterances on at least two levels:

  • locution: what is said
  • illocution: what is not said (but is understood)

Since "illocution" isn't actually said, listeners have to figure it out from context. In the "salt" example above, a listener might choose to respond to the implied request, not to the actual question as stated.

But it's all determined by context. If you go to a bar and decide to insult the very large biker sitting next to you, he might stand up menacingly and say to you:

Call me that again.

Literally, "call me that again" is commanding you to repeat yourself. But what it really means might be the exact opposite:

(locution) Call me that again.
(illocution) Don't (dare to) say that again!

What about a prohibition like "no smoking"? Well, on a sign its meaning is pretty clear:

(locution) no smoking
(illocution) Do not smoke here.

We all understand that signs like these are prohibitions that apply in the vicinity of the sign. So in this context, we can tell that the noun phrase means the same thing as the corresponding imperative, plus the locative "here".

But what if you were at the doctor's office filling out a medical history form, and you came across a section with the following checkboxes:

  [__] No smoking     [__] Some smoking     [__] Lots of smoking
  [__] No drinking    [__] Some drinking    [__] Lots of drinking

In this context, it's obvious that "no smoking" isn't a directive. So as we can see, the illocutionary force depends on context.

By the way, this grammar doesn't have to be used for general statements. It can be used to give orders to specific people:

Jim, no running until your leg is healed. Everyone else, keep running!

Here, the order is specific to Jim, so we can see that the grammar isn't limited to "people in general", and it's temporary, so it's not limited to statements "in perpetuity", either.


Posted 2013-11-29T10:10:11.660

Reputation: 30 097

I've clarified my remarks about "people in general" / "in perpetuity". In practice I think the distinction is that "no running" ==> "running is not permitted", which is just more abstract than the basic imperative "don't run", meaning that "you must cease running and/or not start running" – Matt – 2013-11-30T14:20:24.140

@Matt That makes sense. I can upvote your answer now :-) – snailplane – 2013-11-30T14:22:58.727


I don't know if there's an official answer from a grammatical perspective, but I would say that it's short for "No parking here," which is in-turn short for "Do not park here" or "Parking here is prohibited."


Posted 2013-11-29T10:10:11.660

Reputation: 108 123


To keep the phrase intact, you could think of it as,

No parking is allowed.

Damkerng T.

Posted 2013-11-29T10:10:11.660

Reputation: 27 649