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There are five kinds of sentences classified according to their end marks and the different jobs they do:

(i) Declarative sentences

(ii) Interrogative sentences

(iii) Exclamatory sentences

(iv) Imperative sentences

(v) Conditional sentences

 

(i) Declarative sentences:

A declarative sentence simply states a fact or argument without requiring either an answer or action from the reader or listener. It is punctuated with a simple period. (fullstop)

Examples: Nairobi is the capital of Kenya. He asked which path leads back to the park.

Deserts are dry.

The declarative sentence is the most important type of sentences.

You can write an entire essay or report using only declarative sentences, and you should always use them for more often than any other type.

Some declarative sentences contain indirect questions but this does not make them into interrogative sentences.

Examples: He asked which path leads back to the park.

 

(ii) Interrogative sentences:

An interrogative sentence asks a direct question and always ends in a question mark.

Examples: How many roads lead into Mombasa city? Does money grow on trees? Do you like deserts? Note that an indirect question does not make a sentence interrogative.

Examples: Direct/interrogative When was professor Saitoti the Vice President of Kenya? Indirect/Declarative. I wonder when Professor Saitoti was the Vice President of Kenya.

A direct question requires an answer from the reader or listener, while an indirect question does not.

A special type of direct questions is the rhetorical question.

A rhetorical question is one that you do not expect the reader or listener to answer.

Example: Why did the Mau Mau war take place? Some people argue that it was simply a way of Kenyan Africans saying “enough is enough”.

Rhetorical questions can be very effective way to introduce new topics or problems in one’s writing or speech.

But if you use them too often, you sound patronising or even monotonous or mediocre!

 

(iii) Exclamatory sentences:

An exclamatory sentence expresses strong feeling, emphasis or emotion.

It is actually a more forceful version of a declarative sentence that is marked at the end with an exclamation mark.

Examples: It was so cold! How beautiful this picture is! You look so lovely tonight! Exclamatory sentences are very common in speech and sometimes in writing (but rarely).

Note that an exclamation mark can appear at the end of an imperative sentence, but this does not make it into an exclamatory sentence.

 

(iv) Imperative sentences:

An imperative sentence gives a direct command to someone.

This sentence can end either with a period or with an exclamation mark, depending on how forceful the command is.

Examples: Sit! Read this book tomorrow.

Always carry water.

Wash the windows! Note You should not usually use an exclamation mark with the word “please”.

Example: Close that door, please! Please close that door.

In an imperative sentence, you is always the subject.

It is usually not stated in the sentence.

We say that you is the “understood” or “implied” subject.

Examples: (You) Please bring my camera.

(You) Take your medicine before going to bed.

 

(v) Conditional sentences

A conditional sentence expresses what one would to if a condition were or were not met. The condition in the conditional if-clause will determine the fulfilment of the action in the main clause.

Examples: If I had a million dollars, I would buy a Hummer.

John would be very successful if he had more brains.

In sentence 1, the condition of having a million dollars will determine whether the speaker will buy a hummer or not.

In sentence, the condition of John not having more brains determines that he is not very successful.

 

Exercise

Label each of the following sentences declarative, imperative, exclamatory, interrogative or conditional

  1. There is a terrible storm tonight.
  2. Try to cover yourself with a blanket.
  3. How strong the winds are! 4. If the storm continues, we shall have to go down into the bunker.
  4. Do you think it will rip off the roof?
  5. Look at that flash of lighting!
  6. What an amazing sight that is!
  7. The night looks dark and scary.
  8. Please tell the children to stop screaming.
  9. Susan will sit beside me if the storm continues.
  10. We are hopeful all will be well.
  11. Dive under the table if it breaks the roof.
  12. How will I find my way?
  13. Can I take a glass of water?
  14. John wants to know what will happen if our house collapses.
  15. There goes the thunder!
  16. We shall have to move to another city if we get out of this alive.
  17. Tell me a good city where we can move to.
  18. The storm is subsiding.
  19. Hooray! Safety at last!

 

Answer

Exercise

  1. Declarative 11. Declarative
  2. Imperative 12. Imperative/conditional
  3. Exclamatory 13. Interrogative
  4. Conditional 14. Interrogative
  5. Interrogative 15. Declarative
  6. Exclamatory 16. Exclamatory
  7. Exclamatory 17. Conditional
  8. Declarative 18. Imperative
  9. Imperative 19. Declarative
  10. Conditional 20. Exclamatory

 

See also:

NOUN CLAUSES

ADJECTIVAL CLAUSES

WHAT IS A CLAUSE?

TYPES OF SENTENCES

COMPLEMENTS

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