What is a Sentence?
A sentence is the largest unit of any language. In English, it begins with a capital letter and ends with a full-stop, or a question mark, or an exclamation mark.
A sentence is generally defined as a word or a group of words that expresses a thorough idea by giving a statement/order, or asking a question, or exclaiming.
Ideally, a sentence requires at least one subject and one verb. Sometimes the subject of a sentence can be hidden, but the verb must be visible and present in the sentence.
The verb is called the heart of a sentence.
Then again, some examples of phrases are:
Going for a shower
the national flower of India
on the shelf
- Tidy your study room immediately!
- What are you eating?
- The bakery opens at ten o’clock.
- John wrote a letter to his grandfather.
- What a beautiful picture!
- Shally loves English classes.
- Is this your pup?
The tea is hot.
Subject: tea / Verb: is
The mouse squeaks.
Subject: mouse / Verb: squeaks
Subject and Predicate
Every complete sentence contains two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about, while the predicate tells something about the subject.
In the following sentences, the predicate is in italics, while the subject is highlighted in bold.
- The children are playing in the park.
- Peter is having his lunch.
- The magician is wearing a colorful hat.
- Dogs live in kennels.
Here comes the train.
Here comes (predicate) the train (subject).
There goes the school bus.
There goes (predicate) the school bus (subject).
Look at this simple example:
The above example sentence is very short. Of course, a sentence can be longer and more complicated, but basically,
there is always a subject and a predicate. Look at this longer example:
|Ram and Tara||speak||English when they are working.|
Types of Sentences
1. Declarative Sentences
A declarative sentence is the most basic type of sentence. Its purpose is to relay information, and it is punctuated with a period.
Simple declarative sentences can make basic statements, such as:
- The boy walked home.
- I love honey.
- My mother is a nurse.
Declarative sentences can also be compound sentences, such as in these examples:
- He wants to eat cookies, but he doesn’t know how to make them.
- We plan to visit Florida, and we’re spending a day at Disneyworld.
- Jason doesn’t know how to ski, so he’s taking lessons.
Complex sentences can also be declarative:
- I ordered a latte when I got to the coffee shop.
- While cats are more independent, dogs love being around people.
- Steven found a new job because he enjoys working from home.
You should see: The past tense
2. Interrogative Sentence (question)
Interrogative sentences ask a question. They ask us something. They want information, and they always end with a question mark.
The usual word order for the interrogative sentence is:
- (wh-word +) auxiliary + subject + verb…
Interrogative sentences can be positive or negative. Look at these examples:
|Do you like coffee?||Don’t you like coffee?|
|Why did you go?||Why didn’t you go?|
3. Imperative Sentence (command)
Imperative sentences give a command. They tell us to do something, and they end with a full-stop/period (.) or exclamation mark/point (!).
The usual word order for the imperative sentence is:
- base verb…
Note that there is usually no subject—because the subject is understood, it is YOU.
Imperative sentences can be positive or negative. Look at these examples:
|Stop!||Do not stop!|
|Give her coffee.||Don’t give her coffee.|
4. Exclamative Sentence (exclamation)
Exclamative sentences express strong emotion/surprise—an exclamation—and they always end with an exclamation mark/point (!).
The usual word order for the exclamative sentence is:
- What (+ adjective) + noun + subject + verb
- How (+ adjective/adverb) + subject + verb
Look at these examples:
- What a liar he is!
- What an exciting movie it was!
- How he lied!
- How exciting the movie was!
Types of Sentences
There are mainly 4 types of sentences. But the sentences can be divided into 7 types in total. We will discuss all types of sentences on this page.
1. Simple sentence
A simple sentence must have a single clause (a single verb) that is independent, and it cannot take another clause.
- I always wanted to become a writer. (One clause – one verb)
- The train was late.
“The train” = subject, “was” = verb
- Mary and Samantha took the bus.
“Mary and Samantha” = compound subject, “took” = verb
- I looked for Mary and Samantha at the bus station.
“I” = subject, “looked” = verb
2. Compound Sentences
A compound sentence contains at least two independent clauses. These two independent clauses can be combined with a comma and a coordinating conjunction or with a semicolon.
Here are a few examples:
- I looked for Mary and Samantha at the bus station, but they arrived at the station before noon and left on the bus before I arrived.
- Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus station before noon, and they left on the bus before I arrived.
- Mary and Samantha left on the bus before I arrived, so I did not see them at the bus station.
3. Complex Sentences
A complex sentence contains at least one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. Dependent clauses can refer to the subject (who, which)
the sequence/time (since, while), or the causal elements (because, if) of the independent clause.
If a sentence begins with a dependent clause, note the comma after this clause. If, on the other hand, the sentence begins with an independent clause, there is not a comma separating the two clauses.
- while he waited at the train station
- after they left on the bus
Dependent clauses such as those above cannot stand alone as a sentence, but they can be added to an independent clause to form a complex sentence.
Dependent clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions. Below are some of the most common subordinating conjunctions:
- even though
A complex sentence joins an independent clause with one or more dependent clauses.
The dependent clauses can go first in the sentence, followed by the independent clause, as in the following:
- Because Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus station before noon, I did not see them at the station.
- While he waited at the train station, Joe realized that the train was late.
- After they left on the bus, Mary and Samantha realized that Joe was waiting at the train station.
Conversely, the independent clauses can go first in the sentence, followed by the dependent clause, as in the following:
- I did not see them at the station because Mary and Samantha arrived at the bus station before noon.
- Joe realized that the train was late while he waited at the train station.
4. Compound-Complex Sentence
We can form a compound-complex sentence by putting a compound sentence together with a complex sentence.
This means a compound-complex sentence must contain at least two main clauses and at least one subordinate clause. For example:
‘I stayed at home last night, although everyone else was out; John and Mary went to the cinema’.
Definition: A compound-complex sentence has two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.
My father and I went to the movie that I had been wanting to see, and then we went to the restaurant near the theater.
My father and I went to the movie [independent]
+ then we went to the restaurant near the theater [independent]
+ I had been wanting to see that (dependent)
= compound-complex sentence
[My father and I went to the movie] (that I had been wanting to see), and [then we went to the restaurant near the theater.]
Before they were friends, Louisa and Julie knew Aimee, but they didn’t realize that they knew her until they met.
Before they were friends (dependent)
+ Louisa and Julie knew Aimee [independent]
+ They didn’t realize [independent]
+ that they knew her (dependent)
+ until they met (dependent)
= compound-complex sentence
[(Before they were friends), Louisa and Julie knew Aimee], but [they didn’t realize (that they knew her) (until they met).]
Here are 5 examples of compound-complex sentences;
1. If the ozone layer collapses, the global community will suffer.
2. While I was cooking he was still playing games on the computer.
3. Although I miss him so much, I cannot go to him because I do not have money.
4. Although I worked hard, I got a very low grade on the exam and stayed in the classroom.
5. Don’t leave the restaurant until the dishes here are washed.