Types of Sentences
In grammar, a sentence is the basic grammatical unit, containing a group of words and which expresses a complete thought. A sentence essentially consists of a subject and a predicate. It starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. You come across so many sentences every day. All of these sentences can be categorized into different types of sentences based on their structure, purpose and function. There are 4 types of sentences based on structure and 4 types of sentences based on function.
Different Types of Sentences based on function
There are four sentence functions in English:
- Declarative sentences
- Interrogative sentences
- Exclamatory sentences
- Imperative sentences
The four types of sentences are explained below:
A sentence that makes a statement is called a declarative sentence
A declarative sentence is the most basic type of sentence. Its purpose is to relay or convey information to make meaningful statements. These are the most common type of sentence that lets the reader know something specific and always ends with a period.
- The singing of birds delights us.
- He has a good memory.
- The early bird catches the worm.
- Nature is the best physician.
- Borrowed garments never fit well
As you can see, these sentences make statements, whether of fact or opinion. Declarative sentences can be simple, complex, or compound. They can also be in any tense, as long as they do their basic job of presenting information.
Practically all of your essays and reports can be made almost entirely of this sentence type.
As the name suggests Interrogative sentences interrogate, or ask questions. The term is used in grammar to refer to features that form questions. These are direct questions, and they are punctuated with a question mark. Interrogative sentences are typically marked by inversion of the subject and predicate; that is, the verb appears before the subject.
- Are you quite sure?
- Whose dog is that?
- Where is Rose?
- Why are you late?
- Did you break the glass?
Interrogative sentences are used to ask questions. You form a question when you want to ask someone something, either to make a request, offer something, get information, or clarification. This type of sentence always has a question mark at the end.
Types of Interrogative Sentences
There are four different types of interrogative sentences.
- Yes/No Interrogatives
- Alternative Interrogatives
- Wh- Interrogatives
- Tag Questions
These questions usually start with an auxiliary verb, such as DO/DOES, CAN, WOULD etc. (these can also be called ‘closed questions’) and the answer of these kinds of questions are generally yes or no.
- Do you like my house?
- Are you English?
- Can you help me?
- Have you done your homework?
- Will you come with me?
All the above questions’ answers can be given as Yes or No.
Alternative Interrogative Sentences
Alternative Interrogative sentences are questions that have two or more alternative responses in answer and give the other person some options. These sentences start with auxiliary verbs.
- Shall I call John or send a message?
- Do you want tea, coffee or juice?
- Will you tell him or shall I?
- Do you prefer long hair or short?
- Would you like to watch a movie or read a book?
All the above questions leave an option for the other person to choose from it as an answer.
Wh- Interrogative sentences are questions which start with question words beginning with wh- .The question words are who, whom, whose, which, what, where, when, why, and how.
Questions using how also come in this category even though it does not begin with wh-
These are also known as open questions. Such questions’ answers are generally explanatory and open-ended.
- What happened?
- How did you do that?
- Where did you go?
- What are you doing?
- When do you want to study?
All the above questions have their own kind of explanatory answer.
A tag question is a declarative statement with a question tagged onto the end. Tag questions generally ask for confirmation.
- Mary plays the piano, doesn’t she?
- You’re lying to me, aren’t you?
- There’s something wrong with her, isn’t there?
- He didn’t do his home work, did he?
- I can come with you, can’t I?
Each of the above questions has a declarative sentence at the beginning which is followed by question tags.
A sentence that expresses strong feeling is called an Exclamatory Sentence.
Exclamatory sentences are like declarative sentences in that they make statements but their main purpose is to express strong emotion.
Exclamatory sentences generally begin with How or What phrases.
They are easily recognized because they usually end in an exclamation mark at the end.
- How well he sings!
- What a beautiful flower!
- How cold the night is!
- What a shame!
An exclamatory sentence is sometimes preceded by an interjection.
- Alas! He is dead.
- Wow! He just won a gold medal.
Exclamatory sentences are used in conversation, informal correspondence, and advertising and in written dialogue to show emotion, but they are not typically useful in business writing. Exclamatory sentences should not be over used. It should be used only when it is required to express a strong feeling.
Some Exclamatory words that can be used to write exclamatory sentences are below:
A sentence that expresses a command or an entreaty is called an Imperative sentence.
Imperative sentences tell someone to do (or not to do) something. This “something” may be a polite request a friendly advice, an instruction, a direction, or a more forceful command.
- Please shut the door to keep out the bugs.
- Turn left at the bridge.
- Stop bothering me!
- Please don’t go.
- Don’t drink too much cool drinks.
Many imperative sentences end in periods, but some of the more forceful demands may end in an exclamation mark to highlight the emotion.
One can identify an imperative sentence because it appears to be missing a subject.
However, the command of each imperative is directed at ‘you’; therefore, it is understood that the subject is ‘you’.
Types of Imperative Sentence
Positive Imperative sentence:
These imperative sentences are in positive format, meaning that the verb is in affirmative.
- Open the door.
- Take a pill.
- Pay attention.
- Be quiet.
- Have mercy upon us.
Negative Imperative sentence:
Negative Imperative is a mode in which we give a command using the negative. This mode can be used to forbid someone to do something.
These imperative sentences are formed with Do not/ don’t and the verb.
- Don’t touch that.
- Don’t trespass.
- Don’t enter without permission.
Uses of Imperative Sentence
Imperative sentence can be used to give command or order.
- Wake up now!
- Close the door.
- Come here with your note book.
- Wait there.
- Come here.
Imperative sentence can be used to give warning or prohibition.
- Watch out!
- Don’t touch me!
- Stay away!
Imperative sentence can be used to give advice.
- Don’t be panic.
- Don’t eat too much.
- Don’t bother much.
- Try to do better.
- Take care of your health.
Imperative sentence can be used for giving instructions.
- Go straight head and then turn right.
- Take your medicine after meal.
- Follow the instruction written on board.
Imperative sentence can be used for giving wish or request.
- Please don’t go.
- Please reconsider the proposal.
- Let me alone, please.
Imperative sentence can be used for offering an invitation.
- Please join us for dinner tonight.
- Do come for the get- together at my house, please
Brief summary of the 4 types of sentences
- Declarative – used to convey information or make statements. Ends with period (.)
- Interrogative – used to ask questions. Ends with question mark (?)
- Exclamatory – used to make exclamations. Ends with exclamation mark (!)
- Imperative – used to issue orders, advice, directives or convey requests etc.(subject, understood, always ‘you’)Generally ends with a period (.)But sometimes when a strong emotion is to be expressed an exclamation mark can be put at the end.
Positive and Negative Sentences
Positive and Negative sentences are not separate classification of sentences. Both positive and negative sentences are declarative statements.
Positive sentences are statements which say that something is so.
- Iron is a useful metal.
- He speaks the truth.
- The world is a happy place.
Negative sentences are opposites of positive sentences. These statements say that something is not so true.
- Iron is not a useful metal.
- He does not speak the truth.
- The world is not a happy place.
How do you change a positive sentence into a negative sentence?
a) With change in meaning.
b) Without change in meaning.
Before learning how to change a positive sentence to negative, we should know what auxiliary verbs* are.
*Auxiliary verbs: Some verbs help the main verbs to change tense, to form negative, and to make question etc. These verbs are called Auxiliary verbs. E.g. Do, be, shall, will, have, etc. **
**These will be explained in more detail in the article, “Auxiliary verbs“.
Now we can examine how the positive sentences are changed into negative sentence
a) With change in meaning.
This is very easy as you can see from the examples given before. For this you have to use not/no with suitable auxiliary verbs. That is all. Some more examples are given below with explanation:
- I will go there.
I will not go there. (If there is already an Auxiliary verb in the given positive sentence, you have to just add ‘not‘or ‘no‘ suitably.)
- There is milk in the glass.(Positive)
There is no milk in the glass. (Negative)
- He broke the glass. (positive)
He did not break the glass. (Negative)
In the above example, past tense form of the Auxiliary verb,’ do’ is used to convert the Positive into negative.
b) Without changing the meaning.
There are several methods to convert a Positive sentence to a negative sentence without change in the meaning.
Two of them are given below.
1. Using opposites.
E.g. I was doubtful whether it was you. (Positive)
I was not sure that it was you. (Negative)
2. Using Degree of comparison
E.g. He is greater than I. (positive)
I am not as great as he. (Negative) Further examples will be provided in the Types of Sentences Worksheets.
Types of Sentences Worksheets on Declarative, Interrogative, Exclamatory, and Imperative sentences:
Different Types of Sentences – Worksheet 1:
Identify what are the four types of sentences.
He scored a goal. . Declarative
I completed my college application essay. Declarative
John came back from the college. Declarative
Read this book now. Imperative
What an exciting trip it is! Exclamatory
Who stood first in the class? Interrogative
Shut the door. . Imperative
What a cute dog! Exclamatory
Peanut is better than jam. Declarative
Brush your teeth. Imperative
Different Types of Sentences – Worksheet 2:
1. Where is my shovel? Interrogative
2. This is the most beautiful lawn I have ever seen. Declarative
3. Please pass the salt. Imperative
4. It takes hard work to plant all of these plants. Declarative
5. Will you give me the book? Interrogative
6. I am going to climb that tree. Declarative
7. I can’t get down. Declarative
8. Please help me to climb down this tree. Imperative
9. What an amazing sight! Exclamatory
10. How excited I am! Exclamatory
Different Types of Sentences based on structure
In addition to classifying sentences by their function, you can again categorize sentences according to their structure. There are four basic sentence structures. The 4 different types of sentences are:
- Simple Sentence
- Compound Sentence
- Complex Sentence
- Complex – Compound Sentence
A sentence which has only one independent clause* is called as simple sentence.
- A dog is sleeping.
- Jack goes to school.
- John did not go to play.
- She is beautiful.
- The grass is green
*An independent clause is one which can stand alone as a sentence.
A compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses with relative ideas. These clauses are joined together with suitable connectives and punctuation. In other words we can say that when two or more simple sentences, with related ideas, are combined together with the help of proper conjunctions and punctuations, it is called a compound sentence.
- I did not go for swimming today, for I didn’t have time.
- Lilly played caroms, and Tom went for shopping.
- The phone rang, but no one answered it.
- You can take the ball, or I shall give it to Tom
- My friend was not well, so I went to school alone.
In above examples, independent clauses are:
- I did not go for swimming
- I didn’t have time.
- Lilly played caroms
- Tom went for shopping
- The phone rang
- No one answered it
- You can take the ball
- I shall give it to Tom
- My friend was not well
- I went to school alone
Compound sentences can be formed in four ways:
- Using a comma and a *coordinating conjunction
- Using **correlative conjunction
- Using semicolon
- With a semi colon and a ***transitional expression.
* coordinating conjunctions are conjunctions placed between words, phrases, clauses, or sentences of equal status. There are 7 coordinating conjunctions. They are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. To remember all the seven coordinating conjunctions, the acronym FANBOYS can be memorized.
**correlative conjunctions or paired conjunctions are conjunctions that work in pairs used to connect two equally balanced words,phrases or clauses in a sentence.Some commonly used correlative conjunctions are: not only … but also, either …or, neither…nor,both…and, though…yet
***Transitional expression is a word or phrase which is used to show the relationship between two ideas. Example: also, in addition to, as a result, for example etc
Method 1: Using a comma and a coordinating conjunction
- The children wanted to pick mangoes from the mango grove, but the owner did not allow them.
- I wanted to eat, for the work had made me hungry.
- John was late, so he began to run.
- It was raining, yet he did not take an umbrella.
It may be noted that in the above sentences comma comes before each of the coordinating conjunction.
If the independent clauses are very short and very closely related, either a comma or a co coordinating conjunction can be used to join the clauses.
- Mary cleaned the house, John disposed the waste (only comma)
- Mary cleaned the house and John disposed the waste (only coordinating conjunction)
Method 2. Using **correlative conjunction
- She is not only very rich, but also is very kind.
- You can either come with me in my car now, or go by bus afterwards.
- I neither know, nor wish to know about her past life.
Method 3: Using the semicolon
- Mary drank a lot of water; the long walk in the sun had made her very thirsty.
- Harry took a pen and pencil; he wanted to write a poem
Method 4: With a semi colon and a transitional expression.
When compound sentence is formed using semi colon and a transitional expression, a comma is used after the transitional expression and a semicolon before it.
- Mary had been walking quickly for a long time; consequently, she felt very tired.
- It was dinner time; therefore, I went to the dining room.
In the above examples, “consequently” and “therefore” are the transitional expressions. A semicolon has been put before each of them and comma after each.
A complex sentence has one independent clause and one or more*dependent/subordinate clauses. Unlike compound sentence where both the clauses are independent, here only one clause is independent.
*Dependent clauses are also called subordinate clauses. Subordinate clause cannot stand alone though it has a subject and predicate.
In other words a complex sentence is formed by adding one or more dependent/subordinate clauses to the independent/main clause* using subordinating conjunctions **, relative pronouns *** or relative adverbs ****.
*Independent clause is also called Main clause or Principal clause. As the name indicates, Independent clause can stand alone.
**Subordinating conjunctions are used for connecting two clauses together. In addition to this work of joining the clauses together, these conjunctions also tell us the relationship between subordinate clause (i.e., dependent clause) and the independent clause in the sentence.
There are many subordinating conjunctions in English. Some common subordinating conjunctions are: after, while, since, if, when, as soon as, even if, as far as, in case, so that supposing etc.
***Common relative pronouns are: who, whom, whose, which, and that.
****Most commonly used relative adverbs are where, when, and why .Words like whenever and wherever also are used as relative adverbs.
Examples of Complex Sentences:
- As he was not there, I spoke to his brother.
- This is the girl who helped me yesterday.
- If you run, you will be in time.
- We eat that we may live.
- When the sun set, he returned home.
- I do not think that he will come.
- You can come when you like.
- Wherever you go, I shall follow you.
Note: When an independent clause and a dependent clause join together to form a complex sentence, they can go in either order. But when the dependent clause comes first, you have to generally separate the clauses with a comma.
- They rested when evening came. (Here independent clause comes first and there is no comma).
- When the evening came, they rested. (Here dependent clause comes first and there is comma between the clauses).
As the name suggests these kinds of sentences are combination of complex and compound sentences. A compound-complex sentence contains at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. Because compound-complex sentences are normally longer than other sentences, it is very important to punctuate them correctly.
The independent clauses in a compound-complex sentence are called co-ordinate clauses because they are coordinated by a coordinating conjunction.
It is also probably true that the ability to use compound-complex sentences elevates a writer’s credibility. It demonstrates that he or she can bring together in a single sentence a range of different pieces of information and order them in relationship to each other. This is not to say that the compound-complex sentence invites confusion: on the contrary, when handled carefully, it has the opposite effect as it clarifies the complexity and enables readers to see the information it conveys clearly.
In Compound-complex sentences, in addition to *Coordinating Conjunction and **Subordinating conjunction, *** relative pronouns and ****relative adverbs also may be required to join the different clauses.
*Coordinating Conjunction: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
**Subordinating Conjunction: There are many subordinating conjunction in English. Some of them are: after, although, as, as far as, as if, even though, every time, in order that, since, till, unless, when, whenever, while, how, as soon as etc.
***Relative pronouns: who, whom, whose, which, and that are commonly used relative pronouns.
****Relative adverbs: Commonly used relative adverbs are where, when, and why. Words like whenever and wherever also are used as relative adverbs.
Examples of compound-complex Sentences
- They asked him how he received the wound,but he refused to answer.
In this example,” They asked him” and “he refused to answer” are independent clauses and “how he received the wound” is dependent clause. The coordinating conjunction “and” is used to join the independent clauses and the relative adverb, “how” is used to join the dependent clause.
- He says what he means and he means what he says.
In this example the first “he says” and the second “he means” are independent clauses, and the clauses, “what he means” and “what he says” are dependent clauses and “and” coordinating conjunction. Both the “whats” are used to join the clauses. The two “whats” here are used as relative pronouns.
When my father saw my boyfriend for the first time, he called me privately and asked me if my friend had a job.
When my father saw my boyfriend for the first time–Dependent clause.
“he called me privately”—Independent clause
“asked me”——————– Independent clause
“if my friend has a job”—–. Dependent clause