Sentences can be identified as having one of four purposes:
Declarative sentences are the most common type of sentence in English literature. A declarative sentence states a fact. (Interestingly, the preceding sentence, and this sentence also, are declarative sentences.)
In addition to making a statement or sharing a fact, declaratives always end with a period.
Examples of declarative sentences:
- The bus arrived late.
- My pink sweater needs to be washed.
- The book, while thought-provoking, was challenging to read because of its advanced vocabulary.
Declarative sentences may be short and simple, getting straight to the point, or declarative sentences may be lengthier and include prepositions, objects of prepositions, direct objects, and indirect objects.
Don't let a sentence's structure or length fool you! A declarative sentence states something. A declarative sentence does not command, question, or proclaim. A declarative sentence states a fact.
Like the declarative sentences discussed above, imperative sentences also end with a period. Imperative sentences give a command or ask someone to do so something.
Imperative sentences may appear to lack a subject:
- Shut the door.
- Clear the table.
- Stop right this instant.
Imperative sentences, like declarative sentences, may be short and simple or long and complex, however, imperative sentences are typically short simple sentences. Again however, don't be fooled by the sentence structure. An imperative sentence can have any style of sentence structure and still be an imperative sentence.
An imperative sentence commands, requests, or orders someone to do something.
Interrogative sentences have different terminal punctuation than declarative sentences and imperative sentences. Interrogative sentences always end with a questions mark.
- Where are you going today?
- Will you hand me the red paintbrush, please?
- I don't know; which train do you think we should take?
Exclamatory sentences have different terminal punctuation than declarative sentences, imperative sentences, and interrogative sentences. Exclamatory sentences always end with an exclamation mark.
- I'm so angry!
- Get away from me!
- It's so beautiful; I love it!
An exclamatory sentence uses strong emotion and ends with an exclamation mark.
Identifying the Four Types of Sentences
There are four types of sentences when classifying sentences by purpose: declarative, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory. When identifying sentence types ask yourself, "What is the sentence doing?"
If the sentence is stating a fact or describing something and ends with a period then it is a declarative sentence.
If the sentence is giving a command or requesting someone to do something and ends with a period then it is an imperative sentence.
If the sentence requests information or asks a question and ends with a question mark then it is an interrogative sentence.
If the sentence proclaims something or uses very strong emotions and ends with an exclamation mark then it is an exclamatory sentence.