Types of sentences and clauses

(Clause types – statements, interrogative and imperative sentences)

Table of contents – types of sentences

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Types of sentences in English
  2. Particularities when using
  3. Further explanations and exercises

What types of sentences are there?

Like other languages, English offers distinct types of sentences (which similarly applies to clauses) that help the speaker express various intentions. Although these types can be subdivided further, the most commonly used ones are the regular declarative sentence, the interrogative sentence, and the imperative sentence. In terms of grammar, they differ mainly regarding word order and punctuation.

Now, compare the essential characteristics of each of the sentence types in the following list:

  1. Declarative sentences in English usually follow the regular order of the constituents, which is subjectverbobject (if present), and deviate from it only in sporadic cases. There is a full stop at the end of the sentence. All the verbs are highlighted in the examples:
    • “My father likes to read the newspaper in the evenings.”
      • The speaker is reporting general information.
    • “Yes, this is the way to the station.”
      • This utterance is a declarative statement as a response to a question.
  2. In English interrogative sentences, an auxiliary verb often stands before the subject. An additional question word may even precede this verb. At the end of the sentence, there is a question mark:
    • Did you go out last night?”
      • Such a question is common to get a yes-no answer.
    • “Where can I buy tickets for the theatre?”
      • This example shows an interrogative sentence with a question word.
    • Were there a lot of people?”
      • Were(to be) as the main verb appears at the beginning of the sentence here.
  3. Imperative sentences or commands are generally constructed with the imperative form of the verb. Only sometimes, there is an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence:
    • “Be quiet!”
      • This demand is short and precise and ends in an exclamation mark for intensification. Note that even the verb ‘to be’ resembles its infinitive.
    • “Close the door, please.”
      • This request includes ‘please’ for making it more polite.
    • “Come on, let’s go shopping.”
      • This example shows an imperative sentence with the exceptional construction ‘let’s’.

Particularities when using the different types of sentences

Although grammatically, the different types refer to statements, questions, and commands, their functions may overlap. Such an overlapping means, for example, that a grammatical interrogative sentence (thus, with a question mark at the end) may similarly be an imperative utterance. Regarding this, the pronunciation, which means the intonation, also plays an important role:

  • “Can you please drive a bit more slowly?
    • According to the sentence structure and the punctuation mark at the end, it is a grammatical interrogative sentence (question). However, it is equivalent to a request.

Further explanations relating to the topic ‘Types of sentences’

The following explanations relate to the ‘Clause types in English (declarative, interrogative, imperative sentences)’ and might therefore be helpful too: