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Types of Sentences

A sentence is the essential component of any language, including English. In speaking and writing, sentences play a vital role and allow us to express our ideas clearly. In particular, the sentences help us to communicate with others appropriately. Therefore, to communicate effectively and clearly, it is important to know about the sentence and its types to express our thoughts and emotions in the right way.

In this article, we discuss the different types of sentences and their definitions and examples. Before discussing the sentence types, let us first understand the definition of a sentence and its characteristics:

What is a sentence?

According to a definition, a sentence refers to the set of arranged words that conveys a complete sense or a thought by giving an order/statement, or asking any questions, or exclaiming.

We can use different types of sentences, including subject, verb and punctuation. It is the method by which we can express different thoughts and feelings, either orally or by writing. We can change the tone, structure and function of the sentence depending on the conveying message.

Characteristics of a Sentence

In English, a sentence must have the following characteristics:

  • When writing a sentence, it should always start with a capital letter and end with any one of these three punctuation marks - a period (full stop) [.], a sign of interrogation (question mark) [?], or a sign of exclamation (exclamation mark) [!].
  • A sentence must always express a complete thought. It should not be fragmented.
  • A sentence must include at least one visible/hidden subject and a verb with an independent clause (the independent clause includes an independent subject and a verb and expresses complete thought).

Examples of Sentences

Given below are some general examples of sentences:

  • He is a good guy.
  • Please do it.
  • Is he a good guy?
  • What a nice morning!

Let us now discuss the types of sentences to better know these examples and differentiate them based on their types.

Types of Sentences

The sentences are mainly classified into the following types:

  • Sentences based on their function
  • Sentences based on their structure
Types of Sentences

Let us discuss each type in detail:

Classification of Sentences based on Function

The types of sentences are usually defined based on their function. According to the function, sentences are classified into the following four types:

  • Declarative Sentences
  • Imperative Sentences
  • Interrogative Sentences
  • Exclamatory Sentences

What is a Declarative Sentence?

A declarative sentence refers to an assertive sentence that usually expresses a feeling/opinion, or makes a statement or defines things. In particular, it makes a declaration. The declarative sentence can include any tenses, such as present tense, past tense, or future tense. Furthermore, this type of sentence is followed by a period [.].

The following are examples of declarative sentences:

  • I want to be a good singer. (a statement, a positive or affirmative declarative sentence)
  • I am not very happy today. (a feeling, a negative declarative sentence)

What is an Imperative Sentence?

An imperative sentence usually makes a request, gives an order, gives instructions, or gives advice. More specifically, this type of sentence is used to tell people what to do. Furthermore, imperative sentences are also used to give a direction to a person whoever is being addressed. That is why they are also known as directives.

The imperative sentences usually start with verbs that express a specific sense. Besides, they are followed by the period [.] but can sometimes be followed by an exclamation point [!]. These sentences normally have a hidden subject (implicit). This property eventually makes these sentences second person sentences.

The following are examples of the imperative sentences:

  • Go to the nearest bank and make that deposit. (an instruction followed by a period)
  • Get your hands up now! (a command followed by an exclamation point)

In both the above examples, the subject is 'you', which is hidden or understood.

What is an Interrogative Sentence?

An interrogative sentence refers to a type of sentence that asks only questions. Typically, these sentences usually begin with wh-interrogatives, such as what, who, when, why, etc. However, it mainly depends on the type of interrogative sentence. Apart from this, they always end with an interrogation sign (a question mark).

Generally, interrogative sentences are classified into four types, such as:

  • Yes/No Interrogatives
  • Wh-interrogatives
  • Alternative Interrogatives
  • Tag Questions Interrogatives

The following are the examples of the interrogative sentences:

  • Will you join me? (Yes/No Interrogative Sentence)
  • When are you going to visit the Taj Mahal? (Wh-interrogative Sentence)
  • Do you prefer to go to watch a movie or shopping? (Alternative Interrogative Sentence)
  • You are going to the market, aren't you? (Tag Question Interrogative Sentence)

What is an Exclamatory Sentence?

An exclamatory sentence refers to a sentence that generally expresses strong emotion. Such emotions can include wonder, sorrow, happiness, anger, etc. While listening, it is easy to distinguish an exclamatory sentence. We can identify this type of sentence by the tone of the person's voice that conveys the emotion. Besides, while writing, exclamatory sentences are followed by the exclamation sign [!].

The following are some common examples of exclamatory sentences:

  • How sweet!
  • Happy New Year!
  • What a tasty burger!
  • He is such a wonderful writer!
  • I cannot believe she would do that!

There are many ways to express or write an exclamatory sentence. We should use this type of sentence carefully. As they express strong feelings, we should never use them while writing reports, projects, educational purposes, etc.

Classification of Sentences based on Structure

According to the structure, sentences are classified into the following four types:

  • Simple Sentences
  • Compound Sentences
  • Complex Sentences
  • Compound-Complex Sentences

What is a Simple Sentence?

A simple sentence refers to a sentence that only includes one clause (a verb), which remains independent. It cannot have any other clause under any circumstances. The sentence must have a complete thought comprising of a subject.

The following are some common examples of simple sentences:

  • I always wanted to become a cricketer.
  • Can I have some water to drink, please?

Both the above sentences are simple, and each sentence has only one clause (a verb).

What is a Compound Sentence?

A compound sentence refers to a sentence that has at least two independent clauses with no dependent clauses. However, both the independent clauses express relevant thoughts. The clauses are usually joined using some specific coordinating conjunction, correlative conjunction, conjugate adverb or semicolon.

The following are some examples of the compound sentences:

  • It was too hot outside, but the chocolate did not melt.
  • I wiggled the doorbell, and the baby smiled.
  • I always wanted to become a comedian, and my sister wanted to become a writer.

All the above examples have two independent clauses (verbs). It is important to note that we cannot form a compound sentence using two sentences with completely unrelated ideas.

What is a Complex Sentence?

A complex sentence refers to a type of sentence that includes more than one clause, where one of them should be an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. A dependent clause(es) can differ between an adverb clause, a noun clause, or a relative clause. The clauses are usually joined using some specific connectors or linking words, known as subordinating conjunctions.

There is a huge range of subordinate conjunctions in English. The most common and widely used subordinating conjunctions are: because, as, while, whenever, if, as if, as soon as, as long as, though, even though, before, after, until, unless, since, when, where, wherever, etc.

The following are some examples of the complex sentences:

  • Whenever we come to this restaurant, we eat burgers and pizza.
  • She will be able to sing a melodious song if she keeps practicing.

Both the above examples are complex sentences but are connected differently. In the first example, the dependent clause is used first, while in the second example, the independent clause is put first. It is important to note that we usually place a comma after it when we first use the dependent clause. Besides, when we first use the independent clause, we generally use subordinate conjunction to link clauses.

What is a Compound-Complex Sentence?

As the name suggests, a compound-complex sentence is defined as a sentence created by joining compound and complex sentences. In particular, they are usually joined using coordinating conjunctions. Furthermore, this type of sentence must have at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses or subordinate clauses.

The following is the example of the compound-complex sentences:

  • I know that you always tried to become a good singer, but I always tried to become a cricketer.

In this example, a dependent clause is followed using a complex connector. Additionally, two independent clauses join it using compound conjunction between them. It is important to follow the rules of both the complex and compound sentences when making compound-complex sentences.

Some tips to compose a sentence

The following are some useful tips to compose a sentence appropriately:

  • When relaying a piece of information or answering a question, we must use a declarative sentence.
  • When asking a question, we must use an interrogative sentence.
  • When telling someone what to do, we must use an imperative sentence.
  • When there is an emotion, we can better express it using an imperative sentence.

However, we can change the function and form of the sentence accordingly, especially when there is a change in intonation.

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