Sentences

Sentence Functions: The Four Tops

In addition to classifying sentences by the number of clauses they contain, you can pigeonhole sentences according to their functions. There are four sentence functions in English: declarative, exclamatory, interrogative, and imperative.

  1. Declarative sentences state an idea. They end with a period. For example:
    • The first toilet ever seen on television was on Leave It to Beaver.
    • The problem with the gene pool is that there's no lifeguard.
  2. Exclamatory sentences show strong emotions. They end with an exclamation mark. For example:
    • What a mess this room is!
    • The cake is ruined!
  3. Interrogative sentences ask a question. As you would expect, they end with a question mark. For instance:
    Strictly Speaking

    Which type of sentence often omits the subject? Imperative sentences, because the subject is often understood, as shown in these examples: “Clean up this mess” or “Help!”

    • How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm when they've seen Paris?
    • Why is it possible to tickle someone else but not to tickle yourself?
  4. Imperative sentences give orders or directions, and so end with a period or an exclamation mark. For instance:
    • Sit down and listen!
    • Fasten your seatbelts when the sign is illuminated.
book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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