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.
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.
Exclamatory sentences show strong emotions. They end with an exclamation mark. For example:
- What a mess this room is!
- The cake is ruined!
Interrogative sentences ask a question. As you would expect, they end with a question mark. For instance:
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?
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.
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.