Understanding the Four Types of Sentences

2 min read

At the basic level, there are four different types of sentences in the English language. Some make statements. Why do others ask questions? Some sentences get overly emotional! You will learn about the kind that gives a command. Each of these serves a particular purpose and deserves a place in every writer’s toolkit.

Declarative Sentence

Most common is the declarative sentence. There’s a subject and a verb, and the purpose is to tell something by making a statement or expressing an opinion. This type of sentence is punctuated with a period at the end.

My mom works for the bank.

Natalia likes dogs.

I think that the best film of all time is The Wizard of Oz.

Interrogative Sentence

Have you heard about interrogative sentences? An “interrogation” is a process of asking questions, so these sentences often begin with words such as “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Why,” “How,” and “Do.” Other starting words are permissible, but the key indicator of an interrogative sentence is the punctuation — they will always end with a question mark.

How much money do you need?

Who did Ivan call?

Are you going out tonight?

Exclamatory Sentence

Oh, my gosh! Exclamatory sentences are filled with so much emotion that a period just doesn’t cut it. These sentences can express joy, surprise, sadness, or anger. Warning! Exclamatory sentences are pretty excitable, so use them sparingly. Also, while common in social media, texting, and emails, they’re seldom used in academic or formal writing. Punctuate these sentences with an exclamation point at the end!

That’s too dangerous!

Lina won the championship!

I love that restaurant!

Imperative Sentence

Imperative sentences, also known as commands or requests, give advice or instructions. At the end of an imperative sentence, you’ll find either a period or an exclamation point, depending on the tone and urgency of the command.

Bring an umbrella.

Take your seat.

Get away from me!

Choosing Which Type of Sentence to Use

What’s the intention of the message? If you want to ask a question, you’ll need an interrogative sentence. If you need to give advice, an imperative sentence will do the job.

Since most writing is about conveying information, declarative sentences are the most frequently used type of sentence. But even when you’re trying to pass along information to your readers, it’s important to add variety to your writing by inserting other types of sentences.

Take a look at this paragraph made up of all declarative sentences:

My favorite book is Harry Potter. I love the magic and adventure. I also like reading about dragons. I wish I could read Harry Potter right now.

It certainly expresses a clear opinion about Harry Potter. But, it’s also a bit dull to read. What happens if we include a variety of sentence types?

What’s your favorite book? Mine is Harry Potter. I love all the magic and adventure. Reading about dragons is exciting! Check Harry Potter out at your local library.

Using all four types of sentences makes the message more interesting and engaging. Depending on the context, interrogative or exclamatory sentences aren’t appropriate (such as in academic or business writing), but you can add variety with punctuation and different structures in the declarative sentences.

A memo filled with imperative sentences would seem bossy and overbearing. An email filled with exclamation points would seem manic and hysterical. A paragraph made up entirely of questions might make you feel disturbed and unsettled. Variety is the spice of life — and writing.

Featured image credit: real444/ iStock

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