What Type of Sentence is That?
November 19, 2013

What Type Of Sentence Is That?

Moving on in grammar and punctuation, after learning about sentence variety, a good logical step would be sentence type. Knowing how to use sentence type often helps when figuring out sentence variety. American English uses four kinds of sentences: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory. Each of these serves a different purpose and uses different punctuation.

A declarative sentence makes a statement and/or an assertion. In other words, it declares something.

Example 1: She studies science because it is her favorite.

Example 2: Obtaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing requires much writing, reading, and research, but many students succeed.

Example 3: The movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is fun to watch.

These almost always end in a period because they declare or assert something. As the Purdue OWL explains, declarative sentences convey ideas about their topics.

Where the declarative sentence conveys ideas, the interrogative seeks information. We usually call interrogative sentences questions, because an interrogative sentence asks a question, which means that these always end in a question mark.

Example 1: What does she study in school?

Example 2: How much work does a Master’s degree in Creative Writing require?

Example 3: Why do you like the movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” so much?

Oftentimes, a declarative one answers an interrogative sentence; although sometimes an imperative or exclamatory sentence answers an interrogative one.

So then, what is an imperative sentence? (See how I used an interrogative one to transition to this next sentence type?) An imperative sentence is one that gives a command or makes a request. (This sentence is a good example of a declarative one.) So, when we need or want someone to do something, we use the imperative sentence.

Example 1: Learn more about science, please.

Example 2: Find information on the work involved in a Master’s degree in Creative Writing.

Example 3: Watch “The Hobbit” to see why it’s so great.

These direct the receiver to do something; they command. Use these only when you need or want to come across as commanding or when you want to request something of someone. Notice also that these have the dropped subject of the pronoun of the understood you. Often, we call this the you (understood) subject pronoun.

One must be careful in using the imperative, because it can come across as bossy or demanding. At times, though, the imperative sentence is necessary. Often, we hear parents use this with their children, as well as teachers with their students, although many different situations call for its use.

The final sentence type is exclamatory. Each of the above can be made into an exclamatory sentence. These types of sentences impart powerful feelings or emotions (i.e. exclaim) and usually end in an exclamation point, yet they do not always have to end with that punctuation.

Example 1: She absolutely adores science!

Example 2: Getting a Master’s degree in Creative Writing is hard work!

Example 3: “The Hobbit” rules!

Sometimes the language of the sentence is exclamatory on its own, thus it does not need an exclamation point.

Example 1: She sure does heart her some science studies.

Example 2: Creative Writing degrees demand so much.

Example 3: Can you believe how great “The Hobbit” is?

The exclamation comes in the words and sentences themselves, so one does not have to include an exclamation point.

Though sentence type seems obvious, many times we forget the different types of sentences, as well as how and when to use them. It is good to refresh before sitting down to write that big report, college essay, short story, email, or even just text. Each of these has power and purpose, so use them (look at that imperative! Oooh, followed with a bit of exclamation.) to convey your ideas, ask questions in order to learn, command and request, and exclaim your feelings and emotions.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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