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How to Classify English Sentences According to Purpose with Examples

Table of Content(toc)
When we write a sentence, we have various reasons or purposes for writing them. The four main reasons for which we write sentences are:

To make a statement

To ask a question

To express one's attitude about something

To express a command, surprise, etc. 

The sentences classified by purpose are:
  1. Declarative Sentences
  2. Interrogative Sentences
  3. Exclamatory Sentences
  4. Imperative Sentences 

Declarative Sentences 

A sentence which states a fact is called a declarative sentence. All declarative sentences end with a period. Declarative sentences are the most common use in all types of sentences. A declarative sentence has the following different structures.

subject + verb

The child cried.

subject + verb + adverbial

The flames spread everywhere.

subject + verb + direct object

She bought a doll.

subject + verb + indirect object + direct object

He promised me a present.

subject + verb + direct object + adverbial

She kissed the baby on the forehead.

subject + verb + complement

The boy seems worried.

subject + verb + complement + adverbial

She looked beautiful yesterday.

Further Examples of a declarative sentence

  • They have eaten dinner.
  • He has made several mistakes.
  • I haven't reached there on time.
  • The children have gone to school.
  • The moon is shining tonight.

Sometimes a declarative sentence ends with exclamation marks instead of a full stop if we want to express strong feelings. 

Compare:
  • Hana's coming.
  • Hana's coming!
Both the sentences express the same information. However, the second sentence not only conveys the same thought but also expresses strong emotion.

Note: A full stop is also called a period. This name for a full stop is often used in American English. 

Interrogative Sentences 

A sentence that simply asks a question is called an interrogative sentence. A question mark denoted as (?) goes at the end of every interrogative sentence.

Examples

Where are you from?
Is the baby sleepy?
When will we arrive?

In some sentences, we cannot decide whether a group of words make a statement or ask a question. In this case, the only way to decide is to place a punctuation mark (?) at the end. For example

He's arriving this evening.

He's arriving this evening?

If a sentence consists of more than one part separated by commas and only one part of that sentence asks a question, the whole sentence is treated as an interrogative sentence. For example 

When will you go, if you don't want to go now?

If she doesn't want to go now, when will she go?

The interrogative sentences can be either yes/no questions, Wh-questions, or tag questions.

The yes/no questions mean the asked question can be answered either in yes/no. These types of questions usually begin with an auxiliary verb.

  • May I help you?
  • Does she speak Chinese?
  • Is there enough water for us?
  • Is your brother older than her?

Wh-questions are interrogative sentences formed with questions words, i.e., who, when, how, why, where, etc.; the answers to these questions can be short or long.

  • Why did you decide to live in your old house?
  • When is she going?
  • How old are your older?
  • Who is that person?
  • Where did you go last night?

Tag questions: A question formed by adding a question as a tag to the end of a declarative sentence is called a tag question. A tag question such as 'aren't you' or 'wasn't it is used to check if a person is agreeing with you or to check information.

  • They are going to school, aren't they?
  • That isn't your book, is it?
  • Did you study hard, aren't you?

Exclamatory Sentences 

A sentence that expresses a strong emotion is called an exclamatory sentence. The exclamatory sentences end with a unique mark of punctuation called exclamation point. It is denoted as "!"

Examples
  • What beautiful weather today!
  • My God! What a heavy rain.
  • Oh! What bad luck!
  • What a lovely baby!
  • How stupid he is!

An exclamatory sentence might have any of these structures.

Complement + subject + verb

what a beautiful girl she was!

Complement

What lovely weather!

direct object + subject + verb

What horrible work he's doing.

subject + complement

New machines work fast. 

Some exclamatory sentences look like interrogative sentences but are, in fact, expressing a command. Such sentences are punctuated with an exclamation mark (!) rather than a question mark.

Example

Isn't that a beautiful house!

Imperative Sentences 

A sentence that makes a request or gives an order is called an imperative sentence. An imperative sentence may end with a full stop or exclamation mark. It all depends on how forceful the request or order is. 

Example

  • Please help me. (Request)
  • Get out of my room! (Command)
  • Turn off the heater before you sleep.
  • Sit down!
  • How stupid he is!
  • Do your work!

Imperative sentences do not take subjects. An imperative sentence can be made negative by putting do not before the infinitive.

In an imperative sentence, we don't usually mention the subject. This is because the person giving the command is obviously talking to someone who is present; the subject is assumed to be you.  

An imperative sentence can be made in any one of the following structures.

Verb

Go!

Verb + complement

Be careful!

Verb + direct object

Stop writing!

Verb + adverbial or subject + verb + adverbial

Write a little quickly!

Verb + direct object + adverbial

Study this book for two months.

Verb + direct object + indirect object + adverbial

Give them access at once.

Adverbial

Sit!

subject + verb + adverbial

She went to school.

Note: The structures discussed above for declarative, exclamatory, and imperative sentences aren't all the possible structures. 

What are Positive and Negative Sentences 

Positive Sentence: A sentence that does not have negative words such as not, nothing, none, nor, nobody, nowhere, etc., is called a positive sentence. Positive sentences are also called affirmative sentences.

Examples of Positive Sentences

  • She likes bananas.
  • Please stop.
  • He asked me how to study.
  • His lecture was good, but the conclusion was too long and complicated.
  • He has been to New Zealand.
  • Is he arriving today?

Negative Sentence: A sentence that contains negative words, i.e., no, not, never, nowhere, nobody, etc., is called a negative sentence.

Examples of negative sentences

  • There is no rice left.
  • I have never been to England.
  • He has got two phones, but neither works properly.
  • I neither studied nor slept last night.
  • Nobody agreed with them.
  • The paper was not difficult.

How to Make a Positive Sentence Negative 

To make a positive sentence negative, we have to place a negative word in the correct place in the positive sentence. The negative words usually go between the auxiliary and main verb as;
  • I have not seen him yet.
  • He is not working with us.
  • I have never played piano.
When a sentence consists of more than one helping verb, these negative words go after the first auxiliary verb.

  • He has not been driving since last Friday.
  • I have never been seen such a stupid person.

The be verb is used as either an auxiliary or main verb; in both cases, it can be followed by not.
  • He isn't rich.
  • They aren't coming.

Sometimes simply putting a negative word in a positive sentence isn't enough to make a sentence negative. In this case, changes to other terms in a sentence are also needed to make a positive sentence negative.

Examples

Positive: I have watched many movies before.
Negative: I haven't watched any movie before.
Positive: Bring some of your documents.
Negative: Don't bring any of your documents.
Positive: I think he has something to tell us.
Negative: I don't think he has anything to tell us.
Positive: He was talking to someone.
Negative: He wasn't talking to anyone.
Positive: He is going too.
Negative: He isn't going either.
Positive: There must be something someone can do.
Negative: There is nothing anyone can do.
 
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